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How Americans Spend Mobile Internet Time A New Look
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How Americans Spend Mobile Internet Time A New Look

Nielsen applies a wide variety of methodologies to derive insights from our data for clients and the marketplace on what consumers watch. Our recently published “What Americans Do Online” article produced a fantastic level of interest, including questions and suggestions about other ways to look at the data. Since this is how we typically work with clients, collaborating on how to get to the best analysis, we acknowledge that data alone doesn’t always provide the complete picture.

The following alternative analysis, comparing category- and site-level data, for example, shows the different insights made possible by alternate approaches and interpretations. We have long taken pride in our leadership in measurement science and our participation in rich debate around methodology to arrive at the best insight possible. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation to develop new ways to look at measurement both online and in the mobile arena.

For the mobile element of the research, our original share of time analysis used the average time spent at a category-level, the broad groupings of websites that offer similar types of content. This time we went to a more granular level, looking at share of time by basing it on the total time at the individual site-level.

U.S. Mobile Internet Time by Category: May 2010
RANK Mobile Sector Share of mobile

Internet Time based

on total time at an

individual site-level*

Share of mobile

Internet Time based

on average time spent at a

category-level**

1 E-Mail 38.50% 41.60%
2 Social Networking 10.70% 10.50%
3 News & Current Events 7.20% 4.40%
4 Search 6.30% 7.10%
5 Portals 4.60% 11.60%
6 Entertainment 4.30% 3.30%
7 Sports 4.10% 2.30%
8 Music 4.00% 3.10%
9 Videos/Movies** 3.00% 2.00%
10 Weather 2.80% 2.80%
Source: The Nielsen Company

*The original share of time analysis was based on the average time spent at a category-level **The Videos/Movies category refers to time spent on video-specific (e.g., YouTube, Yahoo! Videos, Hulu) and movie-related websites (e.g., IMDB, Blockbuster and Netflix) only. It is not a measure of video streaming or inclusive of video streaming on non-video-specific or movie-specific websites (e.g., streamed video on sports or news sites).

**New Analysis

This alternative way of slicing the data still shows Email to be, by far, the dominant sector in terms of mobile time, although this dominance shrinks by a few delta points to 38.5% from 41.6%. Search is another that nets out with a smaller share, although by less than a percentage point from 7.1% to 6.3%.

The share held by Social Networking remains very similar but News & Current Events comes out much stronger using the site-level analysis at a 7.2% share of time compared to 4.4% of time using the category-level analysis.

Share of time on Portals shows something more dramatic, with a change from 11.6% to 4.6% share of time, but this doesn’t mean that people are spending any less time on Portal sites. Nielsen classifies both channels and brands into categories and so a category-level analysis includes both brands (e.g. Google) as well as channels under than brand (e.g. Google News). Using the initial methodology means that all Google time would be assigned to Portals (because Google is a portal) but using the site-level method means the Google News element would be assigned to the News & Current Events sector. Thus, the Portal element is limited to more general and entry pages rather than including content-specific sectors such as news.