A collaborative report released today by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks, Inc. found that 18 to 34 year-olds were the most connected age group, spending more time online and accounting for more page views.
The group, specifically the male half, has been the subject of intense scrutiny by media buyers and planners, ever since Nielsen Media Research’s September 2003 “sweeps” TV ratings showed an alarming drop in the number of 18- to 34-year-old men watching network television.
This group essentially came of age during the Internet era, resulting in increased reliance on the medium and a disproportionate share of usage in relation to the larger population.
Representing 24 percent of the U.S. population, 18 to 34 year-olds account for 34 percent of Internet users, 38 percent of total minutes spent online and 40 percent of all pages viewed. The data for the March 2004 report was culled from the more than 1.5 million global Internet users, who have given comScore explicit permission to monitor their Web-wide browsing, buying and other transaction behavior.
Nearly 73 percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds are online, and the penetration rate declines with age. The exception occurs among 45 to 54 year-olds who pull slightly ahead of their 35 to 44 year-old counterparts with penetration rates of 62.9 percent and 61.3 percent respectively. OIder adults, 55 to 64, boast a 48.9 percent penetration rate, while only 18.3 percent of seniors are online.
Roughly three-quarters of the males in the 18 to 34 age range are online, compared to 70.3 percent of the females. The female Internet penetration is higher than the male in the 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 categories, while 55 to 65+ males take the lead.
The well-connected 18 to 34 year-olds clearly do not limit their surfing to home, work and school, as they are the group most likely to access from a friend or relative’s home, library, hotel or motel, and cyber cafi. They are also the group least likely to be tethered, as 16.4 percent access the Internet via cell phone, and 5.4 percent connect via PDA.
“Their propensity to go online from other locations and use of other devices illustrates this group’s attachment to the Internet and their perpetual need to stay connected,” the report indicates.
Different forms of entertainment are important to this age group, as they use the Internet both as a primary source of entertainment and as a resource for entertainment news and information. Entertainment and music sites are high on their surfing list, as well as sharing and downloading music, movies and files. Men also migrate toward sites related to free Web hosting, auctions, and sports, while women are drawn to community sites, apparel and careers.
The research also offered revealing insight about this group’s attitudes about technology, finding that they are comfortable with electronic devices and often early adopters of new gadgets. Besides gaming and music devices, a greater percentage of 18 to 34 year-olds own large screen TVs, Internet radio systems, video telephones, and personal digital assistants than the other age groups.