Just how do Americans get their news and entertainment over the Web? And how does the Web stack up against TV, newspapers, and other media when it comes to media consumption? Those are questions that advertisers have long wrestled to answer, with mixed results. Sure, you can give people a survey. But that doesn't always yield truthful responses. Ball State University's Center for Media Design came up with an approach they're hoping will provide a more accurate picture. They followed subjects for an entire day to find out for themselves.

The study, they say, gives one of the clearest glimpses of the Internet's media influence, especially during the working day. More than 60% of participants use the Web during the day, vs. 40% for newspapers, and about 30% for magazines, according to the study, commissioned by the Online Publishers Assn., of which BusinessWeek.com is a member. And at work, the Web dominates media consumption, the researchers say.

People are spending a lot more time during the day on the Web, too -- on average about 120 minutes. That's less than they listen to the radio, but much longer than the roughly half hour they read newspapers or magazines. (TV is still the media king, gobbling more than 240 minutes of a viewer's day.) A decade ago, people were spending less than an hour on the Web, the study says.

So what does all this mean for advertisers? For starters, though ad spending is shifting to the Internet, it has yet to catch up with consumers' habits. About 17% of the time spent using consumer media is devoted to the Internet, Ball State found. But the Net accounts for only 8% of advertising spending, say the researchers, citing figures by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, the merchant bank focusing on media.

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