The first time I learned that zibeline was actually a word wasn't thanks to one of my English professors; I didn't read it in a book (do those still exist?) or stumble upon it in my dictionary. I learned it while I was on my cell phone -- playing Words with Friends. Games like FarmVille, Words with Friends, and Mafia Wars have helped add to the addictive nature of social media and created a burgeoning billion-dollar industry.
With each passing day the internet is being more seamlessly integrated into the way we live. Checking one's email or tweeting has become inseparable part of the daily routine. Smartphones, laptops, and tablets are not just items that help to enhance mobility; they have become the newest form of escape. Taking the bus downtown or waiting for a movie to start is now another opportunity for people to check their email, surf the web, or update a Facebook status. We live in the age of 24/7 consumption, which translates to more opportunities for marketers to reach an audience.
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As reported by the Forrester Research annual report about online consumer habits, for the first time ever, the average American spends an equal amount of time online as watching TV offline -- about 13 hours a week. Moreover, in the last five years, the time spent surfing the web has grown 121 percent, according to Forrester. While that is an extremely important statistic to note for marketers, a more important detail is determining where and how people are spending that extra online time.
According to a Nielsen survey, the average American spends almost one-third of his or her online time playing games and using social networks. Social networking sites and services account for the greatest time expenditure -- about 23 percent of all time spent online. Online games account for the next largest segment at 10 percent.
And there you have it. If you combine social networking and gaming (most of online gaming is levied through social networks), it accounts for a whopping 33 percent of all online time spent. That's a huge figure.
So why is it that, when it comes to investing in social gaming, many big brands are hesitant to dive in? Nearly 62 million U.S. internet users, or 27 percent of the online audience, will play at least one game on a social network monthly this year, up from 53 million in 2010, and that number is likely to keep rising, according to eMarketer estimates.