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5/2/2007
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Consumers Turn To Multimedia, Search, Aggregators For News

Google and gossip blogs also are shaping online news consumption trends, according to a recent Hitwise report.

The amount of traffic leaving news and media sites for multimedia sites has risen 196% from April 2006 to April 2007, according to an online competitive intelligence service.

Major events, like the execution of Saddam Hussein and the death of crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, have driven the increase, according to a Hitwise analysis released Tuesday. The amount of news traffic going to video Web sites nearly doubled after those two events, demonstrating that people wanted to see the videos to satisfy their curiosity, Hitwise said in its U.S. News and Media Report.

Google and gossip blogs also are shaping online news consumption trends, according to the report.

"News events in 2006 exposed Internet users to emerging sources of online information," LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise and author of the report, said in a prepared statement. "Search engines were more likely to be the first step for Internet users in their search for information about breaking events, and search engine results from news video services, video sites like YouTube, and blogs were more likely to contain the information they sought, thus hastening the growth of nontraditional news sources."

Print news Web sites saw a 29.7% increase in traffic generated by Google in March 2007, compared with March 2006, while broadcast media experienced a 35.9% rise in Google-driven traffic during that same period. Google News, Yahoo News, the Drudge report, and portals also drove significant amounts of traffic to news and media Web sites, according to Hitwise.

Market share of traffic on the top 20 celebrity gossip blogs grew 42% from November to March 2007, according to the report, which concludes that users sought uncensored news about Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith, according to Hitwise. PerezHilton was among the fastest-growing sites in the category, increasing its market share of visits by 621% from March 2006 to March 2007, the report stated.

During that period, the market share of visits to the top 10 News and Media Web sites dropped 3.8%, revealing that users are expanding their sources and fragmenting consumption, according to the report.

In some states like Kentucky and South Dakota, local news aggregator Topix gained in popularity, increasing its market share of visits by 81% from March 2006 to March 2007.

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