War on terror sends Canadians to the Web

The combination of good and bad news drove Canadians at home onto the Internet in September in record numbers, according to a survey.

Jupiter Media Metrix this week said more than 14.2 million Canadians surfed at home, an increase of 4.4 per cent over August. Approximately 6,127,000 unique Canadian visitors were online.

Lisa Eaton, vice-president, general manager, Canada of the Toronto-based firm, says surfing habits were proceeding as normal until the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, after which usage spiked. Numbers remained above average for the remainder of the month, though she adds the increase can also be attributed to professional sports. Both the NFL and NHL were getting into full swing, as were the various fantasy leagues surrounding them.

Even though there was one less day in September, surfers also spent more time online. Eaton says Canadians were online for 11.5 billion minutes, compared to 11.324 billion in August. While they spent more time on the Web, their habits were significantly different.

Eaton says all the news and information sites it tracks saw an increase in traffic. CNN.com experienced the largest increase with Canadian traffic rising by 198 per cent, or from 608,000 to 1.81 million visitors. Traffic to CBC.ca, by comparison, rose by 43 per cent, 715,000 to 1,021 million.

“It was interesting to see the other sites they went to as well: the FBI (193,000) and the Department of National Defence (166,00). It’s amazing, when these things happen, what triggers interest in other areas,” Eaton says adding 148,000 curious Canucks also visited to Snopes.com, a Web site that investigates the veracity of rumours and urban legends.

Job sites also reflected the mood of the nation. Eaton says traffic rose by 23 per cent over August. “I would attribute that to a combination of the economy, more people out in the job market and plus the sites themselves are fairly sophisticated now and offer a variety of resource for people who are job hunting,” she says.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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