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Americans increasingly using the Internet just for fun

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

PewInternetIt’s no wonder casual online games, viral videos, and social networks are gaining such traction. They are all entertaining ways to pass time and a new survey from Pew Internet says that’s exactly what more than half of young adults want when they go online.

On any given day, 53% of all the young adults ages 18-29 go online for no particular reason except to have fun or to pass the time. Many of them go online in purposeful ways, as well, the new Pew survey shows.

The results of the survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project show that young adults’ use of the internet can at times be simply for the diversion it presents. Indeed, 81% of all young adults in this age cohort report they have used the internet for this reason at least occasionally.

Go online for fun and to pass the time on a typical day

These results come in the larger context that internet users of all ages are much more likely now than in the past to say they go online for no particular reason other than to pass the time or have fun. Some 58% of all adults (or 74% of all online adults) say they use the internet this way.\ And a third of all adults (34%) say they used the internet that way “yesterday” – or the day before Pew Internet reached them for the survey.1 Both figures are higher than in 2009 when we last asked this question and vastly higher than in the middle of the last decade.

Go online for fun and to pass the time

The upsurge in the number of people who use the internet as a destination for fun and no particular purpose has coincided with a variety of trends: the rise of broadband connections, the increasing use of video that is enabled by those high-speed connections, and the explosion of social networking.

All of those factors are strongly associated with people who use the internet for fun: If they have broadband, if they are online video consumers, if they use social media of any kind – especially social networking sites – they are much more likely than others to go online to pass the time.

The trend also suggests the degree to which the internet has become a competitor to all kinds of other leisure activities that are pursued on other kinds of media. Still, the competition is fuzzy because most other kinds of leisure pursuits that can be digitized – from reading to game playing to “watching TV” and “listening to radio” – are now available online.

Our question wording was simple and did not ask about any particular online “fun” activity, so people were allowed to answer that they were online for fun however they defined the term.

The increases in the number of people going online for fun on a typical day and in the general population of those who ever go online for fun came across all age groups and other demographic cohorts.

The most recent figures about those going online for fun come from a survey conducted from July 25 to August 26, 2011 among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones.

The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Are Interactive marketers missing the social games opportunity?

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

ForresterA new report from Forrester Research says that 84 percent of U.S. Interactive marketers have no plans to use games in 2011 marketing strategies.

That, says Forrester, makes social games “a large, untapped opportunity for marketers.” We think it’s also a large opportunity for startups with ideas on how to help marketers take advantage of what social games offer. For one thing, 250 million people play casual games every month.

With Facebook game-maker Zynga likely to launch a much-watched IPO soon, social games are going to be even more of a buzz topic than they already are. Almost everyone seems to like these social games, although privacy and security concerns keep some from playing them via Facebook or other social venues. Still, we get requests to join in some social game or other every day on our Facebook account.

It is rather startling that so few marketers have plans to take advantage of the vast audience and engaged attention social games offer.

Forrester says in the new report that “Marketers should start to take note from the marketers who are investing and reaping rewards as social games offer a diverse audience whose size rivals that of network TV audiences.”

It says that balancing brand interaction with game rewards such as currency, gaming offers marketers a myriad of “value-exchange marketing options” that place brands in front of “engaged consumers.” The report suggests offering currency as a reward for a service or taking a survey as one tactic to use.

The report also says that gaming audiences offer attractive demographics: 59 percent, for instance are women, many of them mothers. Gen X leads in the age group demo, with 30 percent gaming.

Forrester offers the report for $499.

Forrester recommends that marketers focus on games from established players such as Zynga, Playfish, or CrowdStar.

Companies can also create their own social games, but the report notes that such games may or may not catch on.

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