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People are searching less, and other things you didn’t know about the internet

Michael Dwyer/AP Images
Mobile shopping is driving e-commerce’s increasingly large bites into brick-and-mortar retail sales.
By Jacob Albert
United StatesPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The day after President Barack Obama gave the State of the Union, ComScore, a digital analytics firm, released what might be called a “State of the American Internet” report. Here are some of its more surprising findings:

  • The search market is showing signs of maturity, as core content searches declined for the first time in history, falling 3% last year. Even though more people are using search functions—4% more than in 2011—they are making 7% fewer searches per person. One reason for this, says ComScore, is that people are increasingly heading to specific locations to conduct searches—sites like Amazon, eBay or Facebook, or Of all leading search engines, Microsoft’s Bing was the only whose per-person search volume actually increased. But Google still dominates: It’s responsible for two-thirds of all web searches.
The number of core searches declined on the whole, even as more people searched the web.
  • Only three social networks gained more unique visitors in 2012 than Twitter or LinkedIn. And they all focused on visual content:
Net user growth
Net user growth
  • While e-commerce spending rose 13%, digital content and subscriptions grew the most. Purchases of things like Amazon movie downloads and Netflix or Spotify subscriptions were the fastest-growing e-commerce product category, at 26%.
  • But mobile-based e-commerce—”m-commerce”?—is stealing increasingly bigger slices of the pie. Mobile e-commerce now accounts for 11% of all online commerce. A chunk of that is due to the increase of “showrooming,” where in-store shoppers use mobile devices to compare brick-and-mortar prices with online options, often purchasing the product online.
Mobile commerce growth rates (as a portion of total e-commerce activity)
  • Traffic to the top 25 digital media properties grew by an average of 29%—and that was largely thanks to users on mobile channels:
The top 25 US digital properties, and their mobile-accelerated growth rates.

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