People who register at Web sites tend to stay much longer and look at more pages when they visit than those who don't register, a new study by the survey firm Netratings Inc. has found.

That conclusion is good news for the many sites that have gone all out to register users in hopes that they'll feel loyalty as regular users--"sticky" users, in industry parlance--and make it possible to sell more ads and services.

The flip side, though, is that if sites require registration for entry, many first-time visitors balk and don't come back at all. Some sites compromise by letting people see basic material without registering, but reserving other pages for those who do.

The survey studied usage patterns by people visiting regular and personalized pages of the heavily trafficked Netscape and Yahoo portals. People visiting personalized pages were assumed to be registered.

The study found that registered users not only stay for relatively long periods but also tend to give scant time to competing sites.

Registration's Pull

Registered users of Netscape Netcenter viewed six times as many pages and spent more time at the site than did unregistered visitors.

User Unique Pages viewed Percent time

group audience per person at on site vs.

(millions) domaintotal Net time

My.Netscape

(registered) 1.17 99 13.8

Netscape

(unregistered)9.93 16 4.0

. . . and registered users tended to spend less time at other portal sites . . .

User group Percent of Internet Percent of Internet

time at MSN time at Excite

My.Netscape 0.9 1.4

Netscape 1.4 2.0

SOURCE: Nielsen/NetRatings