Content sites continue to grab the attention of the majority of Internet users, up from 34 percent of total time spent in 2003 to 42 percent in 2009, a 24 percent increase, according to a new report by the Online Publishers Association (OPA).

The OPA has released a six-year analysis of its Internet Activity Index (IAI), a monthly gauge of time spent with commerce, communications, community, content and search. The analysis found Internet users are spending significant time with community sites (social media), it’s coming at the expense of their time spent with communication sites whose main functions are email and instant messaging.

“In the six years that the IAI has reported on how consumers are spending their time online, we have seen some significant shifts, most notably the emergence of Community,” said Pam Horan, president of the OPA.

“While Community has grown, data from the IAI proves that Content is still king; these sites continue to be a place where consumers spend the majority of their online time and provide an environment for brand marketers to reach and engage with consumers.”

The percentage of time spent online with websites providing news, information and entertainment (content sites), has grown even in the wake of community sites like Facebook. Communication sites offering email and IM have decreased in the share of online time spent due to the ability to conduct these activities elsewhere.

“In 2008, we introduced the Community category based on the emergence and popularity of sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn,” continued Horan.

“These new sites have had significant impact on the Communications category, which saw a 41 percent decline, due to the fact consumers are using Community sites where they can conduct these same activities more efficiently.”