Comscore Media Metrix Announces Top 50 U.S. Internet Property Rankings for January 2004

On America’s Mind in January: Taxes, Politics and Diets

RESTON, Va. Feb. 17, 2004 – Comscore Media Metrix today announced the Top 50 U.S. Internet Properties for the month of January 2004. In January, the total U.S. Internet population totaled 152.4 million users who spent an average of 28.9 hours online, an increase of 5 percent versus December. In January, tax, politics, diet and travel sites dominated the top-gaining properties and categories.

“Consumer behavior followed patterns that we’ve seen for several years and have come to expect, reflecting the official kickoff of the tax season and the unofficial start of the diet season,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “But we also saw the effects of the Democratic primaries and unique news events, underscoring the degree to which the Web has become a natural extension and barometer of everyday life.”

Top 50 Properties
Six properties entered the Comscore Media Metrix Top 50 Properties in January (see table 1). New partnerships with AOL and MSN helped CareerBuilder add 8 million unique visitors in January, propelling it nearly 60 spots to the number 25 position. Partly driven by travel industry seasonality, Travelocity and Trip Network joined market leaders Expedia and Orbitz in January’s Top 50. Other entrants to the Top 50 included E.W. Scripps, Adobe Sites and the MyFamily Network.

Of the properties in both the December and January Top 50 rankings, Gorilla Nation Media saw the largest gain, adding more than 4 million unique visitors to its network in January, primarily though the acquisition of CheatPlanet.com traffic. Other big gainers included Expedia, Orbitz and Gannett Sites, which moved up 16, 13 and 9 spots, respectively.

Tax, Politics and Diet Sites Dominate the Top Gaining Properties and Categories
This month, the top-gaining categories and properties were driven upward by a number of factors, including the kickoff of the tax season, the Democratic primaries and the close of the December holidays.

With W2 forms finding their way to millions of American mailboxes, it is no surprise that the Taxes category was the top gainer in January (see table 2). The category grew by 166 percent versus December and 9 percent versus year-ago levels. IRS.gov nearly tripled versus December to 10.5 million unique visitors as citizens braced themselves to view tax tables and schedules at the category’s largest site. HRBlock.com grew by a stunning 1,077 percent versus December, making it the month’s top gaining property (see table 3).

Recent research from Comscore Survey Solutions (see http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=414) has validated that political Web sites have a significant impact on Americans’ pre-election attitudes and behaviors. With the Democratic primary race heating up, the January Comscore Media Metrix data confirm the scale of the audience that is open to this growing online influence.

In January, the Politics category drew 14 million visitors, representing an increase of 76 percent and making it the second largest gaining category. The increase was driven by gains at all major campaign sites, as well as AOL’s launch of ElectionGuide04.com, which drew 3.8 million unique visitors in January. Although Howard Dean’s campaign took a decidedly unfavorable turn in January, 729,000 visitors to DeanforAmerica.com helped the governor continue to hold the lead among Democratic candidate Web sites. Next in line were JohnKerry.com, Clark04.com and JohnEdwards2004.com with 496,000 unique visitors, 403,000 unique visitors and 298,000 unique visitors, respectively.

Whether determined to make good on their New Year’s resolutions or just to shed a few pounds gained over the holidays, Americans continued a January tradition of visiting diet sites in droves, driving the Health-Information category up by 19 percent versus December. eDiets.com, the category leader, drew 7.9 million unique visitors, an increase of 82 percent versus December. Other diet- and fitness-focused sites also saw substantial gains, including MensHealth.com (388 percent), Weight Watchers International (116 percent) and Atkins.com (80 percent).

The Classifieds and Careers categories both benefited from the growth of two major players: CareerBuilder and HotJobs. CareerBuilder grew by 8 million visitors or 110 percent in January, largely as a result of partnerships with AOL and MSN. HotJobs saw growth of 43 percent driven primarily by its $20,000 “signing bonus” sweepstakes promotion.

Both the Hotel/Resorts and Car Rental sub-categories saw seasonal jumps in visitors from December to January, as Web users began the process of planning spring and summer travel. Fresh from spending time with family over the December holidays, 12.5 million Americans turned to the Genealogy category to research their family history, an increase of more than 21 percent versus December.

Aside from IRS.gov, two other government sites ranked among the top ten gaining properties. The Mars rover mission and President Bush’s plans to send astronauts to the moon again launched NASA.gov into orbit with 6.1 million unique visitors, an increase of more than 150 percent versus the previous month. With the No Child Left Behind Act discussed in the media and President Bush’s State of the Union address, Ed.gov, the Web site of the U.S. Department of Education, jumped 72 percent to take the number 10 position.

Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking
Introduced in October 2003, Comscore Media Metrix Ad Focus reporting provides a unique ranking of top Web entities that are supported in whole or in part by online advertising.

The composition of the top ten Ad Focus entities remained constant from December to January (see table 4), and half of these entities grew at a faster pace than the total Internet population (reflected in improved levels of reach). In addition, a 2-percent bump in unique visitors pushed MaxOnline into the top five Ad Focus entities for January. Finally, interest in a series of winter storms helped propel Weather.com up five positions to number 28 in the Ad Focus ranking.

TABLE 1

Top 50 Properties
January 2004
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
Unique Visitors (000)
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Rank Property Unique Visitors
(000)
  Rank Property Unique Visitors (000)
  Total Internet Users 152,443        
1 Yahoo! Sites 110,821   26 Ask Jeeves 15,597
2 MSN-Microsoft Sites 109,113   27 Weatherbug.com Property 15,311
3 Time Warner Network 107,977   28 SBC Communications 15,066
4 eBay 72,561   29 Cox Enterprises Inc. 14,740
5 Google Sites 60,463   30 Sony Online 14,712
6 Terra Lycos 48,335   31 Wal-Mart 14,631
7 About/Primedia 41,385   32 AT&T Properties 14,219
8 Amazon Sites 38,179   33 Gannett Sites 13,982
9 Viacom Online 26,494   34 Classmates.com Sites 13,917
10 Weather Channel, The 24,699   35 E.W. Scripps 13,633
11 Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) 24,109   36 AmericanGreetings Property 13,421
12 Excite Network 23,791   37 eUniverse Network 13,332
13 CNET Networks 23,207   38 iVillage.com: The Womens Network 13,237
14 Verizon Communications Corporation 21,570   39 Adobe Sites 12,945
15 Real.com Network 21,473   40 United Online, Inc 12,882
16 Symantec 20,992   41 Dell 12,822
17 Tickle, Inc. 19,334   42 Travelocity 12,491
18 Gorilla Nation Media 18,128   43 Vivendi-Universal Sites 12,157
19 Monster Property 17,946   44 NFL Internet Group 11,658
20 Shopping.com Sites 17,295   45 MyFamily Network 11,570
21 InfoSpace Network 16,689   46 Trip Network Inc. 11,476
22 EA Online 16,647   47 Comcast Corporation 11,430
23 ORBITZ.COM 16,154   48 News Corp. Online 11,365
24 Expedia Travel 16,091   49 Womensforum Sites 11,214
25 CareerBuilder, Inc. 15,611   50 Hewlett Packard 11,068

TABLE 2

Top Ten Gaining Categories by Unique Visitors
January 2004 vs. December 2003
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Dec-03(000) Jan-04(000) Percent Change
Total Internet Users 152,109 152,443 0.2%
Business/Finance-Taxes 6,937 18,426 165.6%
News/Information-Politics 7,870 13,973 77.5%
Directories/Resources-Classifieds 25,003 35,119 40.5%
Careers 35,022 43,679 24.7%
Travel-Hotels/Resorts 15,694 19,326 23.1%
Genealogy 10,289 12,489 21.4%
Health-Information 35,163 41,968 19.4%
Real Estate 25,708 30,420 18.3%
Hobbies/Lifestyles-Home 28,657 32,841 14.6%
Travel-Car Rental 3,530 4,003 13.4%

TABLE 3

Top Ten Gaining Properties by Percent Change in Unique Visitors*
January 2004 vs. December 2003
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Property Dec-03
(000)
Jan-04
(000)
Percent
Change
Rank by
Unique Visitors
Total Internet Users 152,109 152,443 0.2% N/A
HRBLOCK.COM 329 3,874 1077.4% 177
ARTISTdirect Sites 1,487 6,342 326.4% 103
IRS.GOV 3,524 10,511 198.2% 53
HOMEGAIN.COM 1,319 3,359 154.6% 204
NASA.GOV 2,425 6,115 152.2% 110
Weight Watchers International 2,330 5,033 116.0% 136
CareerBuilder, Inc. 7,429 15,611 110.1% 25
Intuit 4,659 9,452 102.9% 60
EDIETS.COM 4,317 7,873 82.4% 73
ED.GOV 3,090 5,309 71.8% 132

*Ranking based on the top 250 properties in January

TABLE 4
 

Ad Focus Ranking
Unique Visitors (000)|
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
January 2004
Rank Property Unique Visitors
(000)
Reach %   Rank Property Unique Visitors (000) Reach %
  Total Internet Users 152,443 100.0%          
1 Yahoo! 107,913 70.8%   26 My Yahoo! 24,805 16.3%
2 Advertising.com** 107,346 70.4%   27 Excite Network 23,791 15.6%
3 MSN 98,326 64.5%   28 WEATHER.COM 23,707 15.6%
4 YAHOO.COM Home Page 71,687 47.0%   29 Yahoo! News 23,308 15.3%
5 MaxOnline** 59,265 38.9%   30 AOL Prop News 23,067 15.1%
6 Yahoo! Search 59,070 38.7%   31 ABOUT.COM 22,688 14.9%
7 GOOGLE.COM 58,634 38.5%   32 AOL.COM Home Page 21,842 14.3%
8 MaxOnline Network** 55,480 36.4%   33 Real.com Media Sites 21,462 14.1%
9 MSN.COM Home Page 53,593 35.2%   34 CNN 21,249 13.9%
10 Yahoo! Mail 53,249 34.9%   35 Yahoo! Messenger 20,998 13.8%
11 MSN Search 50,788 33.3%   36 REAL.COM 20,346 13.3%
12 AOL Proprietary 49,675 32.6%   37 Yahoo! Get Local 20,215 13.3%
13 MSN Hotmail 47,838 31.4%   38 BURST! Media Youths and Students** 19,894 13.0%
14 ValueClick Network** 47,799 31.4%   39 GATOR.COM 19,874 13.0%
15 Lycos 45,947 30.1%   40 Gator Sites 19,874 13.0%
16 AOL Prop Email 41,016 26.9%   41 Tickle, Inc. 19,334 12.7%
17 BURST! Media** 38,312 25.1%   42 TICKLE.COM 19,284 12.6%
18 Claria 36,137 23.7%   43 AOL Prop Personal Finance 19,252 12.6%
19 Yahoo! Geocities 34,461 22.6%   44 Yahoo! Messenger (App) 18,905 12.4%
20 AOL Prop Search 34,308 22.5%   45 Yahoo! Shopping 18,530 12.2%
21 24/7 Real Media** 33,455 21.9%   46 Netscape 18,474 12.1%
22 GATOR (App) 32,912 21.6%   47 ClickAgents Network** 18,401 12.1%
23 MAPQUEST.COM 27,421 18.0%   48 EA Online Syndicated Games 18,126 11.9%
24 AOL Prop Instant Message 26,182 17.2%   49 Monster Network 17,946 11.8%
25 MSN Messenger Service 25,168 16.5%   50 AOL Prop Member Directory 17,667 11.6%

**Indicates that this entity is an advertising network.

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



 

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