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June 9, 2006

Consumer Generated Media Falls By 2% In 2 Years

Max Kalehoff wrote an article for MediaPost today about consumer generated media and the growth of broadband use. He noted that 42% of Internet users had generated content online either through blogs, forums or some other form of social media. These were the latest figures from the Pew Internet Project on American Life, from their May 2006 home broadband adoption survey. I remembered that the Pew Internet life project had stated 44% of Internet users generated content on the web from a study in Feb 2004.

2% is enough for a margin of error within a two-year period. However, I was a little surprised the numbers had not grown more. Maybe as more Internet users acquire broadband, even though the faster speeds make it easier to generate content, the next step of generating content online takes time to learn.

What do you think? Why are the numbers static?

Posted by johncass at June 9, 2006 8:49 PM

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Hi John,
Thanks for noticing my column. Regarding a dropp-off, there was none. The two figures from Pew are completely incomparable because of differening survey questions and methodology. In fact, while I don't doubt the validity of Pew's survey question methodology, I'm highly skeptical that a self-reported survey methodology will capture all the CGM behavior, which tends to be more ubiquitious. A better methodology would be to electronically meter users, such as what comScore Media Metrix, netratings and Hitwise do. But for the record, here's the verbatim disclosure from the 2006 Pew report on Broadband adoption:

"The Pew Internet Project last asked about user-generated content in April 2003, and we
asked about it in greater detail then than in our December 2005 survey. In 2003, the
survey prompted users about twelve different topics related to posting content to the
internet. This yielded the finding that 44% of internet users had been the source of online
content.8 The twelve topics included all the elements listed in the four online content
questions listed in the table on page 11, although several items, such as posting artwork
or audio files, were broken out as separate questions. A few online content activities
asked about in 2003, such as posting comments to online newsgroups, were not included
in our December 2005 survey.
The differences in the 2003 and 2005 survey questions on content creation make it
impossible to compare our overall numbers for user-generated content over this time
interval. The questions were asked differently, and the long list of content activities in
2003 likely had the effect of increasing the share of online users who said they had ever
posted content to the internet. Such a lengthy list tends to jog people's memories about
activities they may have done."

Posted by: Max Kalehof at June 10, 2006 9:58 AM

Hi Max, Well that about answers my question, the two surveys were not good comparisons. Hey, I was thinking measuring the volume and segments of consumer generated media is going to be as important in the future as measuring traditional media is today. Companies will use that data to know where to target their audiences, and how. Not quite advertising and not quite PR, but we will probably see a combination of both in the future from companies.

Posted by: John Cass at June 10, 2006 11:49 AM

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