Online Users Up 15 Percent in Six Months

The number of adults in North America using the Internet grew by 15 percent in the last six months to more than 58 million people, according to a preliminary results of a survey released here today at Internet World.

The CommerceNet/Nielsen Media Research Internet Demographics Survey found that 30 million of those with Internet access were logged on during the past 24 hours. Web users account for 48 million of the total number of Internet users with almost 10 million entering cyberspace to transact e-commerce and the remainder logging on only for e-mail or chat groups.

The e-commerce figure is a jump of nearly 50 percent “and it does not have the holiday period in there,” said Stacey Bressler, vice president of marketing at CommerceNet, a trade group. The e-commerce figure is expected to increase significantly during the next period of the ongoing survey, which questioned more than 9,000 people aged 16 and over in the U.S. and Canada.

Although more people are shopping online, 54 percent of Web users said they are unlikely to make future online purchases. Bressler believes that a combination of companies trying to educate consumers about online shopping-including information about security issues-coupled with the good reputations being developed by e-commerce leaders such as will change some minds in the next half year when new survey figures are gathered.

The most recent findings on overall Internet use suggest that the number of adults coming online has slowed from an annual growth of about 50 percent to about 32 percent, but Bressler said there’s a simple explanation for that slowdown.

“When we were talking about 10,000 people (online), it’s easy to double the number,” she said. “When you’re talking about 50 million, it’s not so easy to double the number.”

E-mail use is pushing growth in Internet use. In North America, more than a quarter of the total adult population — 59 million people-have e-mail. Four out of five of them use the Internet. Bressler said that e-mail use is likely to also help e-commerce because people will use e-mail to tell others about Web business sites.

The full Internet use study, conducted biannually, will be released in January.

CommerceNet in Palo Alto, California, can be reached at +1-415-858-1930 or Nielsen Media Research in New York, can be reached at +1-212-708-7795 or