MUMBAI: India's online population is growing six times as fast as the global average and now ranks as the third largest in the world after China and the US, a new study has indicated.

The 2013 India Digital Future In Focus report from comScore, the digital measurement company, pulled together data from its different surveys to identify prevailing trends in web usage, online video, social networking and online retail.

It revealed that that India has seen a 31% year-on-year increase its online population to reach 73.9m, 35% of whom are under the age of 35.

Across all age and gender groups, women between the ages of 35 and 44 emerged as the heaviest internet users. Overall, however, women formed just 39% of the internet population in India and spent less time online than men.

Online video was a fast-growing category, up 27% in the past year, with 54m people watching content. YouTube remained the top video property, garnering a share in excess of 55%.

While Tseries, Sony and UMG were the top three YouTube partners in terms of unique visitors, StarIndia kept users' attention for twice as long.

Blogging was also becoming increasingly popular, with a 48% rise in the blogging audience to 36m visitors. Just over a quarter of this traffic came via mobile devices.

The majority of time spent online, however, was spent on social networks, with 86% of Indian web users visiting these platforms. Facebook led the way, reporting a 28% increase in traffic over the past 12 months, and with users spending an average 217 minutes there.

LinkedIn was the second most popular site, while Pinterest and Tumblr were the fastest growing networks, albeit from a low base. Zedge and Orkut saw sharp falls in the numbers using them,

The report also stated that there was "huge growth potential" in online retail. Some 60% of web users in India already visit online retail sites, but spend just 28 minutes there compared to a global average of 84 minutes.

The space is currently dominated by local retailers, led by Myntra, Flipkart and Jabong. Sites owned by Amazon, the global market leader, are in fourth place.

comScore also noted that more than 111bn display ad impressions had been delivered across India's websites in the most recent quarter and that number was set to increase by around 20% in the coming year.

This, the report argued, indicated "an increasing level of comfort with a medium capable of delivering strong marketing ROI".

Data sourced from comScore; additional content by Warc staff