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With all the Facebook and Twitter headlines, it’s easy to get the feeling that the average web surfer is spending most of their time on social networking sites or sending tweets to all of their followers. A recent Internet activity study by the Online Publisher Association (OPA) reveals that web users are still spending the vast majority of their time looking for good sources of news, information, and entertainment.

β€œIn the six years that the IAI (Internet Activity Index) has reported on how consumers are spending their time online, we have seen some significant shifts, most notably the emergence of Community,” said Pam Horan, president of the OPA. “While Community has grown, data from the IAI proves that Content is still king; these sites continue to be a place where consumers spend the majority of their online time and provide an environment for brand marketers to reach and engage with consumers.”

Even in the face of expanded social networking competition, more people than ever are looking for good content. According to the IAI study, internet users spend 42% of their time on content sites (up from 34% in 2003), versus 13% of their time on community sites (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc.). The study also shows an increase of 88% in the amount of time spent on content sites since 2003.

For web publishers, whose business model depends on page views and advertising, it’s more important than ever to make sure visitors can find the content they’re looking for via effective search services. In addition, publishers can drive incremental monetization via discovery and recommendation services — helping people find additional interesting content after they arrive. That’s why content sites like ClickZ, SearchEngineWatch, Crain’s Chicago Business, Televisa, and Fox TV Stations leverage Collarity’s engagement platform to guide visitors to the content that interests them, based on the collective intelligence of each site’s entire audience.

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