Surfing Down Memory Lane to January 1996: Comscore Media Metrix Revisits First-Ever Web Site Rankings

Comscore Media Metrix Celebrates Eight Years of Industry Leadership and Announces Recent Client Successes

RESTON, Va., Feb. 25, 2004 – Wind back the clock to February 1996: Approximately 10 percent of U.S. households, representing about 20 million American adults, had a home Internet connection; “broadband” was a term known to few and a luxury used by even fewer; technology stocks hadn’t yet begun their ascent to untenable heights – and Media Metrix released the world’s first ranking of the most-visited Web sites. Now fast forward to February 2004: The Web has become an integral part of daily life for more than 150 million Americans, 35 percent of home users have broadband connections and the Internet is a thriving commerce and marketing platform.

In the intervening years, Media Metrix, which was acquired by Comscore Networks in June 2002, has become the undisputed arbiter of the growth of the Internet, chronicling the appearance and departure of some brands, and the emergence and entrenchment of many others. Comscore Media Metrix has continued as the industry leader through a track record of innovation, measurement accuracy and unique insight into consumer behavior. This month, Comscore Media Metrix celebrates the eight-year anniversary of online consumer measurement by re-releasing its January 1996 Web site ranking – the industry’s first – alongside the January 2004 ranking of the Top 50 Internet Properties.

“In the eight years since the Media Metrix service began tracking Internet use, the Web has grown from a novelty used by a minority of techno-savvy users to a mainstream medium used by the majority of the U.S. population,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “Comparing this month’s ranking to that of January 1996 provides the numbers behind the fascinating story of how the Internet evolved to become an integral part of mainstream American life.”

Not only has the Internet grown in size, but also in scope of application. In the mid-nineties, the Web was dominated by “Internet Service Provider” sites that offered a connection to the Internet (many of which evolved into “portals”), search engines and university sites (see full ranking at end of release). Since then, however, the Internet user base has expanded dramatically, high-speed connections have spread beyond corporate and academic campuses and users have become increasingly dependent on the Internet’s many unique capabilities. As a result, the Internet has emerged as a uniquely powerful and holistic medium.

Below are rankings of the top ten properties in January 1996 versus January 2004. A full comparison of the top 50 properties is available at the end of this press release.
 

Ranking of Top Web Sites*
January 1996
U.S. Home Audience
Source: Media Metrix

 

 

Ranking of Top 50 Online Properties
January 2004
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
 

 

 
Home Only

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Only All Locations
Rank

 

 
Audience
Reach %

 

 

Rank

 

 

Audience
Reach %
Audience
Reach %
  Total Internet Population ~20 million(100%)     Total Internet Population 134,227
(100%)
152,443(100%)
1 AOL.COM 41%   1 Yahoo! Sites 67.1% 72.7%
2 WEBCRAWLER.COM 33%   2 MSN-Microsoft Sites 66.4% 71.6%
3 NETSCAPE.COM 31%   3 Time Warner Network 64.3% 70.8%
4 YAHOO.COM 29%   4 Ebay 41.6% 47.6%
5 INFOSEEK.COM 21%   5 Google Sites 34.5% 39.7%
6 PRODIGY.COM 18%   6 Terra Lycos 24.5% 31.7%
7 COMPUSERVE.COM 14%   7 About/Primedia 21.5% 27.1%
8 UMICH.EDU 10%   8 Amazon Sites 19.6% 25.0%
9 PRIMENET.COM 9%   9 Viacom Online 13.9% 17.4%
10 WELL.COM 9%   10 Weather Channel, The 13.2% 16.2%

While information and content delivery have surged in popularity, e-commerce properties such as eBay, Amazon, TicketMaster, Orbitz, Expedia and others have emerged to now also rank among the most popular destinations on the Web. In fact, online spending (excluding auctions) is on target to break through the $100 billion threshold this year – another spectacular growth story tracked and revealed by Comscore Networks.

The Web has had a major impact on a broad range of industries, from retail to entertainment to travel. In January 2004, 83.5 million Americans, or 55 percent of the Internet population, visited either eBay or Amazon, making these sites among the most heavily trafficked retailers in the country – online or offline. Major entertainment conglomerates, such as Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney, have built vast Internet networks that reach tens of millions of Americans every month. Online travel agencies, such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity, have revolutionized the travel industry by giving more power to consumers and driving down prices on airfare, hotel rooms and car rentals. Consumers have responded positively and, as a result, the online travel industry has grown dramatically from a fledgling business in 1996 to $41 billion in consumer sales in 2003.

A comparison of site and property rankings from 1996 to today also highlights a tremendous amount of consolidation, both in terms of media ownership and audience reach. Time Warner, for example, now controls a number of 1996’s top sites, including AOL.com, Netscape.com, Compuserve.com and Pathfinder.com. While the top three sites of the mid-nineties each reached approximately 4 to 6 million people (representing 30 to 40 percent of total online users), the top three properties of today’s Internet are massive networks owned by Yahoo!, Microsoft and Time Warner, each of which reaches more than 70 percent of the Internet population with audiences exceeding 100 million people each month. Collectively, these three leading networks reach virtually every Internet user in the U.S.

Comscore’s Commitment to Continued Innovation
As the Internet grew in size and scope, techniques for measuring its usage grew far more sophisticated. While the 1996 ranking was revolutionary at the time, it was produced using a panel of less than 1,000 home users, compared to the more than 1.5 million people measured by Comscore Networks technology across home, work, university and non-U.S. locations. And while the 1996 technology periodically harvested site visitation data, Comscore now continuously and passively captures a full range of consumer behavior and attitudes, from Web browsing, to online and offline buying behavior, to search term usage, preferences and intent. While the landscape has changed dramatically in past years, Comscore’s capabilities are highly adaptable to client needs as they evolve well into the future.

Today, Comscore is proud to provide its U.S. services to over 400 of the world’s top interactive marketers and publishers. In the past year, Comscore has signed more than 100 new clients to significant contracts and grown revenues by over 60 percent. Comscore’s steadfast commitment to delivering outstanding value and client service is also manifest in exceptional client satisfaction levels, with an 87 percent repeat purchase rate.

“We are delighted with the success and growth of Media Metrix within the Comscore family. We are also pleased that the Comscore business model, with its focus on a full range of marketing solutions, complements the media solutions offered by Media Metrix,” said Magid Abraham, president and CEO of Comscore Networks. “We correctly anticipated today’s critical issues in the Internet economy, and this is reflected in Comscore’s dramatic revenue growth and operating profitability.”

In 2003, Comscore Media Metrix became the audience measurement tool of choice for nearly 50 of the world’s leading online advertising agencies, including Avenue A, Carat Interactive, digital@jwt, Digitas, MediaSmith and Starcom IP. Over the course of the year, Comscore Media Metrix doubled its sales to advertising agencies, while renewing 100 percent of existing agency client subscriptions.

"We chose Comscore Media Metrix as our audience measurement provider for its advanced tools and insightful reach/frequency applications, which assist us in making informed decisions on behalf of our clients," said Christian Kugel, Director of Insights & Analytics of Starcom IP. “Comscore’s media planning tools allow marketers to measure online media using the same metrics and techniques as employed in the offline world – an important step in putting interactive on equal footing with traditional media.”

“The past year was a pivotal one for Comscore Media Metrix – we introduced a number of pioneering new products for the media industry and the marketplace responded enthusiastically,” continued Mr. Daboll. “With strong momentum in place, Comscore will continue in its commitment to deliver the most innovative and accurate tools to help marketers and publishers make smarter business decisions.”

Comscore Media Metrix launched a number of groundbreaking products in 2003 and now provides the industry’s most comprehensive suite of audience measurement, analysis and planning tools. The following Comscore Media Metrix products were launched last year:

  • qSearch – the de facto standard for syndicated and customized research on consumer search behavior across all sites and engines – including search market share, paid search effectiveness, searcher demographics, search-to-conversion dynamics and more – based on actual search engine queries and responses of consumers in the Comscore Global Network.
  • AiM 2.0 – Audience insite Measures (AiM) is the industry’s most powerful consumer analysis and media planning tool. AiM 2.0 is the only service to combine more than 2,000 in-depth lifestyle, product usage, and demographic characteristics with continuously observed behavior measurement across more than 30,000 online entities.
  • AiM Reach/Frequency – quickly calculates reach and frequency curves for marketing campaigns targeted at consumer segments that can be described using more than 2,000 lifestyle and product usage metrics.
  • Ad Focus Reporting – the industry’s first ranking service to focus specifically on advertising-supported media properties and networks, this new capability allows media planners and buyers to more efficiently evaluate the merits of alternative Internet marketing options.
  • Campaign Reach/Frequency – provides estimates of overall campaign reach, frequency and GRP delivery based on client-defined campaign duration, impression goals and CPMs.
  • Daypart Analysis – supports planners who seek the benefits of the Internet’s unique ability to target and reach consumer segments by time of day and day of week.
  • Local Market Reporting – the full suite of online audience metrics for more than 100 local markets across home, work and university locations.

To learn more about Comscore Media Metrix products and services, please call (866) 276-6972 or e-mail mmxinfo@comscore.com.
 

Ranking of Top Web Sites*
January 1996
U.S. Home Audience
Source: Media Metrix

 

 

Ranking of Top 50 Online Properties
January 2004
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
Source: Comscore Media Metrix

 

 

 

 
Home Only

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Only All Locations
Rank

 

 
Audience
Reach %

 

 

Rank

 

 

Audience
Reach %
Audience
Reach %
  Total Internet Population ~20 million(100%)     Total Internet Population 134,227
(100%)
152,443(100%)
1 AOL.COM 41%   1 Yahoo! Sites 67.1% 72.7%
2 WEBCRAWLER.COM 33%   2 MSN-Microsoft Sites 66.4% 71.6%
3 NETSCAPE.COM 31%   3 Time Warner Network 64.3% 70.8%
4 YAHOO.COM 29%   4 Ebay 41.6% 47.6%
5 INFOSEEK.COM 21%   5 Google Sites 34.5% 39.7%
6 PRODIGY.COM 18%   6 Terra Lycos 24.5% 31.7%
7 COMPUSERVE.COM 14%   7 About/Primedia 21.5% 27.1%
8 UMICH.EDU 10%   8 Amazon Sites 19.6% 25.0%
9 PRIMENET.COM 9%   9 Viacom Online 13.9% 17.4%
10 WELL.COM 9%   10 Weather Channel, The 13.2% 16.2%
11 CMU.EDU 8%   11 Walt Disney Internet Group 13.3% 15.8%
11 GNN.COM 8%   12 Excite Network 13.6% 15.6%
13 MCOM.COM 8%   13 CNET Networks 10.8% 15.2%
14 MIT.EDU 8%   14 Verizon Corp. 9.7% 14.1%
15 TELEPORT.COM 7%   15 Real.com Network 10.1% 14.1%
16 GEOCITIES.COM 7%   16 Symantec 10.5% 13.8%
16 WEBCOM.COM 7%   17 Tickle, Inc. 8.9% 12.7%
16 PENTHOUSEMAG.COM 7%   18 Gorilla Nation Media 10.0% 11.9%
19 EXCITE.COM 7%   19 Monster Property 8.7% 11.8%
19 UIUC.EDU 7%   20 Shopping.com Sites 8.2% 11.3%
19 UCHICAGO.EDU 7%   21 InfoSpace Network 8.2% 10.9%
22 CRIS.COM 6%   22 EA Online 10.0% 10.9%
23 PLAYBOY.COM 6%   23 ORBITZ.COM 7.8% 10.6%
23 LYCOS.COM 6%   24 Expedia Travel 7.7% 10.6%
23 BEST.COM 6%   25 CareerBuilder, Inc. 8.3% 10.2%
26 CRL.COM 5%   26 Ask Jeeves 8.2% 10.2%
26 USTREAS.GOV 5%   27 Weatherbug.com Property 7.7% 10.0%
26 NASA.GOV 5%   28 SBC Communications 7.8% 9.9%
26 MICROSOFT.COM 5%   29 Cox Enterprises Inc. 7.7% 9.7%
26 WASHINGTON.EDU 5%   30 Sony Online 7.2% 9.7%
31 DIGITAL.COM 5%   31 Wal-Mart 7.7% 9.6%
31 CNET.COM 5%   32 AT&T Properties 7.7% 9.3%
31 TURNPIKE.NET 5%   33 Gannett Sites 6.9% 9.2%
34 UNC.EDU 5%   34 Classmates.com Sites 7.4% 9.1%
34 UTEXAS.EDU 5%   35 E.W. Scripps 7.5% 8.9%
34 IBM.COM 5%   36 AmericanGreetings Property 6.9% 8.8%
34 COLUMBIA.EDU 5%   37 eUniverse Network 7.2% 8.7%
34 UFL.EDU 5%   38 iVillage.com: Womens Network 6.7% 8.7%
34 GEOPAGES.COM 5%   39 Adobe Sites 5.6% 8.5%
40 USATODAY.COM 4%   40 United Online, Inc 8.1% 8.5%
40 TAMU.EDU 4%   41 Dell 6.2% 8.4%
40 ONPROD.COM 4%   42 Travelocity 6.2% 8.2%
40 ELECTRICITI.COM 4%   43 Vivendi-Universal Sites 5.7% 8.0%
40 RPI.EDU 4%   44 NFL Internet Group 6.2% 7.6%
40 NETCOM.COM 4%   45 MyFamily Network 6.0% 7.6%
40 IGC.NET 4%   46 Trip Network Inc. 5.4% 7.5%
40 INFI.NET 4%   47 Comcast Corporation 5.9% 7.5%
40 UMN.EDU 4%   48 News Corp. Online 5.4% 7.5%
49 HOTSEX.COM 4%   49 Womensforum Sites 5.5% 7.4%
49 PATHFINDER.COM 4%   50 Hewlett Packard 5.2% 7.3%
49 IOS.COM 4%            
49 WWA.COM 4%            
49 PSC.EDU 4%            
49 OHIO-STATE.EDU 4%            
49 SUPERBOWL.COM 4%            

*Based on best available research at the time

About Comscore Media Metrix
Comscore Media Metrix, a division of Comscore Networks, provides industry-leading Internet audience measurement services that report – with unmatched accuracy - details of online media usage, visitor demographics and online buying power for the home, work and university audiences across local U.S. markets and across the globe. Comscore Media Metrix continues the tradition of quality and innovation established by its Media Metrix syndicated Internet ratings - long recognized as the currency in online media measurement among financial analysts, advertising agencies, publishers and marketers - while drawing upon Comscore's advanced technologies to address important new industry requirements. All Comscore Media Metrix syndicated ratings are based on industry-sanctioned sampling methodologies.

About Comscore Networks
Comscore Networks provides unparalleled insight into consumer behavior. This capability is based on a representative cross-section of more than 1.5 million global Internet users who have given Comscore explicit permission to confidentially capture their Web-wide browsing, buying and other transaction behavior, including offline purchasing. Through its patent-pending technology, Comscore measures what matters across the entire spectrum of surfing and buying behavior. This deep knowledge of customers and competitors helps clients design more powerful marketing strategies and tactics that deliver superior ROI. Comscore services are used by global leaders such as Microsoft, The Newspaper Association of America, Knight Ridder Digital, Best Buy, Verizon, Nestlé, Wells Fargo & Company, GlaxoSmithKline, and Orbitz. For more information, please visit www.comscore.com.

Contact:
Andrew Lipsman
Comscore, Inc.
+1 312 775 6510
press@comscore.com