Study: Over 100M Have Used Internet Audio, Video

Over 103 million Americans over the age of 12 have experienced Internet audio or video broadcasts, according to a new study of digital consumer trends by Arbitron and Edison Media.

Forty-four percent said they had taken in an Internet broadcast, with nearly one in five saying they had in the past month. The researchers found that these consumers tend to have a profile that makes them attractive to marketers: they’re more affluent than the average consumer.

The survey, “Internet and Multimedia 10: The Emerging Digital Consumer,” interviewed by telephone 2,005 consumers and projected its findings to the U.S. population.

Internet broadcasting has shown continued steady growth in the past three years, according to Aribtron and Edison. In 2000, when the two companies first conducted the survey, they estimated that only half as many consumers had used audio or video online.

The researchers credited a couple of factors for spurring the growth. First, the online population has grown greatly. By their reckoning, 75 percent of Americans have Net access versus 55 percent three years ago. Also, that access is much more likely to be broadband, without which Internet video and audio can be an unpalatable experience. In just two years, the survey estimates home broadband penetration has leaped from 7 percent to 18 percent.

Those who access Internet broadcasting on a monthly basis, or “streamies,” are better educated and better paid than the general population. According to the survey, 29 percent of streamies reported an annual household income in excess of $75,000, against 17 percent of the total population. Fully 26 percent are college graduates, while only 18 percent of the total population is.

In a positive sign for the Internet broadcasting industry, Aribtron and Edison found that users who try Internet audio or video tend to use it more often as their online experience grows.

Interestingly, Internet audio has outpaced video in consumer demand. The percentage of Americans who had listened to Web audio in the past month tripled from 5 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2003. Meanwhile, Internet video use has stagnated at 7 percent.

The researchers estimate that the Internet audio broadcasting’s audience has would be worth $54 million to advertisers annually, if it were a regular radio station. The figure remains a pittance compared to the $2 billion generated annually by the commercial radio market, but the researchers are optimistic that Internet audio listening will continue to sharply increase in the coming years.

Internet video, however, continues to lag behind audio. The percentage of viewers saying they “loved it” or “liked it” was 27 percent, while 35 percent of audio listeners were pleased.

One positive note was broad consumer recognition of the BMW Films series of short online films: 16 percent of respondents were aware of the project.

In other online advertising findings, the survey reports that the percentage of respondents saying they had clicked on a banner ad in the past month did not decline for the first time in three years. About 15 percent said they had clicked, up 1 percent from last year’s survey. In 2000, the figure was 31 percent.

Those clicking on banners tended to be middle-aged men, according to Arbitron and Edison, and the same 25-to 54-year-old age group had the highest proportion of online purchases in the previous month. On average, reported online purchases declined somewhat from a year ago, falling from $658 to $636.

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