Broadband Users

    November 20, 2006

A lot of online marketing is being done based on the premise that more and more people who use the Net have made the switch to broadband/high-speed access.

That’s true: broadband growth continues at a healthy clip, a 60% compound annual growth, according to Leichtman Research. But that doesn’t mean everybody using broadband fits the same profile, a mistake that marketers could easily make when lumping these folks into the same bucket (e.g., they are able to consumer lots of videos from services like YouTube.

In fact, there are five distinct types of broadband users, according to Netpop | Portraits, part of the Netpop series of studies conducted by strategic market research firm Media-Screen. Those types include the following:

  • Content king-Looking for entertainment, 76% of content kings play online games and 75% of the sites they visit are for personal reasons. They spend about 2-1/2 hours online every day.
  • Social clicker-Spanning the age demographic (younger and older), social clickers use the Net as a communication channel. Younger social clickers use IM and social networking sites while older clickers rely more on email. This is a participatory group: 78% contribute content each month. Nearly 60% of the time they spend online is devoted to communication; the rest is divided between news, information, and shopping.
  • Online insider-According to the report, these folks see the net as “a rich, personal, and cultural phenomenon. Their behaviors mirror those of early adopters, trying out a lot of online resources and contributing to the content and conversation mix. According to coverage of the report from ClickZ Stats, “Eighty-six percent contribute to Internet content or information each month, including posting to blogs, community sites, and chat rooms.”
  • Fast tracker-Fasts access to news and information is the primary reason these folks go online. They are the dominant users of map services, public transportation information, and other data.
  • Everyday pro-These people are all about personal productivity and use the Net to reduce hassle in their lives and make life easier. For example, 84% of this group use the Net for online banking; 68% make purchases from online retailers.

The point, of course, is that treating the broadband audience as a single demographic is a huge mistake. As with any population, they can (and should) be recognized as individuals who are online at high-speed for different reasons, and each segment should be addressed based on what we know about them. I know this study will inform any efforts I take to communicate to audiences based, at least in part, on their high-speed connectivity.



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Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.