E-commerce down slightly, but search, social and display soar in 2009: ComScore

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Although e-commerce was down slightly last year, significant growth occurred in the search, social and display channels, according to ComScore's 2009 Digital Year in Review.

Because of the recession, e-commerce was down 2% to $209.6 billion in 2009, making last year the first on record that showed a negative growth rate for the category. Travel e-commerce, specifically, was down 5%, while non-travel retail e-commerce was relatively flat, according to the report.

The US core search market grew 16% last year, helped by a 6% gain in unique searchers. Microsoft, which launched the Bing search engine in June, showed the most growth in 2009, with search volume up 49%. Google held 65.7% of the search market share.

The social channel also saw large increases, with Facebook and Twitter posting triple-digit growth. The social networks finished last year with 112 million and 20 million users, respectively.

Consumers are also spending more time on social sites, according to the report. On Facebook, the average number of minutes spent on site was up 45% over 2008.

Meanwhile, display ads saw a 21% growth rate, which ComScore attributed to an 8% increase in people exposed to display ads and a 12% growth in average frequency.

Nearly one in five (17%) consumers used smartphones in 2009, according to the report.

Finally, the number of people watching online video rose 19% last year. In total, 86% of online consumers viewed videos on the Web, according to ComScore. The average online consumer watched 187 videos in December — up 95% from a year ago — and the average time of viewership increased to 4.1 minutes, versus 3.2 minutes during 2008. ComScore said one reason for the shift is the growth of Hulu, which accounted for 1 billion streams and 5.8 billion minutes of content in December. That figure was up 140% from 2008.

Calls and e-mails to ComScore seeking comment were not immediately returned.

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