I have trouble buying most data about time spent online, and where it’s spent. And my bullshit radar has been going off on the subject since tabbed browsing became mainstream.
Here’s a simple shot of my open tabs, at the moment:
Most of these have been open, to some degree, all day. But what will, for example, Nielsen’s data record, in terms of the amount of time spent online today? If I spent 4 hours a day with these 5 tabs open, I’ve spent 20 hours online total, if they’re all counted equally. Alternately, there could be a minimum amount of time between actions needed to have time spent on a side counted - but who would that level of accuracy benefit, really? (Other than Me/You, the internet enthusiast.) Or is it just the last tab I left open that’s being recorded? If that’s the case, then I’m currently on Tumblr while typing this in Evernote for future editing.
There’s not enough transparency in how this data is collected, and that’s the problem. When I see a stat saying 94% of time online in Canada is spent on Facebook, I’m starting to assume it means, 94% of the time a browser instance is running per user, Facebook is open in a tab, somewhere.
The difference between access and usage is so vast that it renders a hell of a lot of statistics useless unless we can get better clarity on these things. And I, for one, don’t have it.