A recent report from The Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School provides a glimpse into the digital media future based upon tracking a sample of the US population over the last nine years. It is interesting to note that every year they have seen changes in attitudes, technology, and beliefs regarding digital media and its applications.

The Digital Future Project provides a broad year-to-year exploration of the influence of the Internet and online technology on Americans. Since 2000, the project has examined the behavior and views of a national sample of Internet users and non-users, as well as comparisons between light users (five hours or less per week using the Internet) and heavy users (more than 24 hours per week on the Internet).

When the study began in 2000, about two thirds of Americans used the Internet. The most recent figure in the study is 82 percent, the highest so far. While only 10 percent of those online accessed the Web by broadband in 2000, that number is now 80 percent. Users have become more cautious over time. While more than half (55 percent) believed that most or all online content was reliable in 2000, that number has now dropped to 39 percent. As online consumers become more jaded about digital content, it is important for marketers to understand this perception and validate online communications.

While more people are buying online now than in 2000 (65 percent vs 45 percent), an interesting development is that many people are now browsing in retail stores, then going online to buy the product. In 2000, only 53 percent of the people said that they did this, but in 2009, that figure has jumped to 75 percent. Logically, even more people browse the Web before they make a physical purchase.

Internet use has consistently increased over the past decade, but it is interesting to note that the largest increases have come over the last few years, according to the study. This underscores the growing importance of incorporating digital media into all corporate communication strategies.