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

Key Growth Drivers in February include Valentine’s Day, Tax Season and the Now-Infamous Super Bowl Halftime Show

RESTON, Va. March 19, 2004 – Comscore Media Metrix today announced the Top 50 U.S. Internet Properties for the month of February 2004. Between January and February, the total U.S. Internet population remained stable at 152 million individuals. Highlights of this month’s ratings include continued strength in the Taxes and Politics categories, the “Valentine’s Day effect” and visitation related to the much talked about Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.”

“This month’s traffic shifts can be attributed to an interesting mix of both the predictable and the unexpected,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “As anticipated, tax season and Valentine’s Day were key contributors to many of the top gaining properties and categories in February. But less predictably, a number of entertainment, politics and news sites were the beneficiaries of the Janet Jackson incident and a shift in the Democratic primary landscape.”

Top 50 Properties
Five properties entered the Top 50 Properties in February (see table 1). Tax season pushed IRS.gov and Intuit into the Top 50. IRS.gov, by far the largest mover in the Top 50, jumped 34 spots to take the 19th position, while Intuit climbed 21 spots to number 39. Partly fueled by its promotional partnership with Pepsi, Apple Computer broke into the Top 50 in February, moving up 13 positions to take the number 41 ranking.

Of the properties in both the January and February Top 50 rankings, AT&T Properties and AmericanGreetings posted the biggest moves. AT&T Properties utilized a Valentine’s Day promotion to jump 10 spots to number 22, while the Valentine’s Day e-card rush bumped AmericanGreetings up 10 spots to number 26.

Taxes and Politics Turn in a Repeat Performance in February
Just as in January, the Taxes and Politics categories were the top gainers in February (see table 2). Key drivers of other traffic shifts this month included Valentine’s Day and a number of high-visibility popular culture events, such as the Super Bowl (with its halftime “entertainment”), the Oscars and The Passion.

In February, the top ten sites in the Taxes category grew an average of 80 percent versus January. Category leader IRS.gov grew by 63 percent, helping to propel the Taxes category up 47 percent and the Government category up 6 percent. TaxActOnline.com and HRBlock.com also posted impressive gains of 88 percent and 52 percent, respectively, placing three tax sites among the top ten gaining properties (see table 3). Nearly 20 percent of U.S. Internet users visited the Taxes category in February, spending just over 30 minutes at these sites and viewing an average of 52 pages each.

As the Democratic primary field narrowed in February, the Politics category continued to pick up speed. In total, nearly 16 million Americans visited the category – an increase of 14 percent versus the month prior – making the Politics the second-largest gainer in February. This follows an increase of 78 percent from December to January. With the general election still 9 months away, the Politics category has grown by 46 percent versus last year, another indication that the Internet is an increasingly mainstream source of political information for Americans.

Interestingly, Comscore data indicate that visitation growth to candidate Web sites was in line with the Democratic primary race in February. JohnKerry.com jumped 103 percent to top one million visitors and become the leading candidate site, while JohnEdwards2004.com grew by 60 percent to 480,000 visitors in February. Both DeanforAmerica.com and Clark04.com declined by approximately 50 percent to 355,000 and 185,000 visitors, respectively.

As expected, Valentine’s Day had a significant impact on online retailers. The Jewelry, Luxury Goods & Accessories category was the third-largest gaining category, growing by 14 percent from January to February. Jewelry retailers posting the largest traffic spikes in February included Fossil.com (244 percent versus January), Zales.com (63 percent) and Ashford.com (46 percent). Comscore e-commerce tracking revealed that sales of jewelry and watches reached nearly $65 million in the first two weeks of February, up almost 70 percent versus the same period in 2003.

In early February, a Comscore survey ( http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=426) found that female respondents were most likely to select flowers as their preferred Valentine’s Day gift. Comscore traffic and shopping data indicate that a great many Valentines got just what they were looking for. More than 33 million Americans visited the Flowers, Gifts & Greetings category, making it the fourth-largest gainer in February. Proflowers.com grew by 420 percent, the largest gain posted by any major property in February, while 1-800-Flowers jumped 67 percent, making the site the fifth largest gainer last month. From a sales perspective, consumer spending on flowers and gifts during the first two weeks of February approached $140 million, an increase of 34 percent versus the corresponding weeks in 2003.

Three major events on the small and big screens caught the country’s attention and helped drive a number of related categories upward in February. The Super Bowl, with its closely watched advertisements and even more closely scrutinized halftime show, benefited a number of the top gaining categories and properties. A curious and abuzz nation looking for the scoop on the Janet Jackson incident propelled DrudgeReport.com up 360 percent to nearly 6 million unique visitors, making the site the second-largest gaining property in February. Pepsi’s promotional agreement with iTunes, which was launched on game day, drove Pepsi up 50 percent, pushed iTunes up 117 percent and contributed to the Music category’s growth of 7 percent versus January.

In addition to the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards were also a key contributor to a six percent jump in visitors to the TV category. Popular Oscars-related content pushed MSN Television up an impressive 260 percent, while ABC.com grew 20 percent to reach 4.6 million unique visitors. Consumers’ early rush to the virtual box office for The Passion helped push the Tickets category up 7 percent, with Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com leading the way.

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 and order of the top four Ad Focus entities remained constant from January to February, and Google.com moved jumped two spots to claim the fifth spot in the Ad Focus entities (see table 4). Google Web Search, a new entity created to track Google’s Web search activity (and excluding other channels, such as News and Images), cracked the top ten in its first month, while a 4-percent increase in visitors to the ValueClick Network helped it break into the top ten. In addition, Tribal Fusion attained the number 15 position in the first month Comscore has tracked this advertising network.

TABLE 1

Top 50 Properties
February 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 152,056        
1 Yahoo! Sites 109,638   26 AmericanGreetings Property 15,072
2 Time Warner Network 108,697   27 Weatherbug.com Property 14,973
3 MSN-Microsoft Sites 107,930   28 Classmates.com Sites 14,805
4 EBay 72,233   29 SBC Communications 14,756
5 Google Sites 61,217   30 ORBITZ.COM 14,462
6 Terra Lycos 44,663   31 CareerBuilder, Inc. 14,329
7 About/Primedia 41,281   32 Cox Enterprises Inc. 14,279
8 Amazon Sites 35,879   33 Gannett Sites 14,255
9 Viacom Online 28,336   34 Sony Online 13,928
10 Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) 25,535   35 iVillage.com: Womens Network 13,832
11 Real.com Network 24,560   36 Adobe Sites 13,512
12 Weather Channel, The 23,418   37 Wal-Mart 13,483
13 CNET Networks 23,214   38 News Corp. Online 13,302
14 Verizon Communications Corporation 22,498   39 Intuit 12,921
15 Excite Network 22,498   40 E.W. Scripps 12,617
16 Symantec 20,343   41 Apple Computer, Inc. 12,585
17 Monster 18,331   42 eUniverse Network 12,481
18 Shopping.com Sites 17,223   43 United Online, Inc 11,753
19 IRS.GOV 17,171   44 Trip Network Inc. 11,682
20 Gorilla Nation Media 16,619   45 Comcast Corporation 11,455
21 Ask Jeeves 16,115   46 Travelocity 11,442
22 AT&T Properties 15,990   47 Vivendi-Universal Sites 10,931
23 Expedia Travel 15,921   48 Dell 10,844
24 EA Online 15,455   49 Earthlink 10,795
25 InfoSpace Network 15,385   50 Bank of America 10,327

TABLE 2
 

Top Ten Gaining Categories by Unique Visitors
February 2004 vs. January 2004
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Jan-04(000) Feb-04(000) Percent Change
Total Internet Users 152,443 152,056 0%
Taxes 18,426 27,156 47%
Politics 13,973 15,903 14%
Jewelry/Luxury Goods/Accessories 9,626 10,944 14%
Flowers/Gifts/Greetings 29,369 33,241 13%
Entertainment-Music 64,684 69,178 7%
Tickets 22,424 23,884 7%
Entertainment-TV 48,162 51,122 6%
Government 66,513 70,399 6%
e-cards 37,384 39,245 5%
Business/Finance-News/Research 45,937 47,840 4%

TABLE 3

Top Ten Gaining Properties by Percentage Change in Unique Visitors*
February 2004 vs. January 2004
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Property Jan-04
(000)
Feb-04
(000)
Percentage
Change
Rank by
Unique Visitors
Total Internet Users 152,443 152,056 0% N/A
PROFLOWERS.COM 671 3,485 419% 194
DRUDGEREPORT.COM 1,296 5,951 359% 108
NASCAR.COM 2,124 4,507 112% 152
TAXACTONLINE.COM 1,470 2,756 88% 242
1-800-Flowers 1,701 2,841 67% 240
Oxygen Media 1,642 2,729 66% 247
IRS.GOV 10,511 17,171 63% 19
Forbes Property 2,700 4,290 59% 166
HRBLOCK.COM 3,874 5,870 52% 111
Business Week Online 1,995 3,004 51% 228

*Ranking based on the top 250 properties in February

TABLE 4
 

Ad Focus Ranking
Unique Visitors (000)
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
February 2004
Rank  Property Unique Visitors(000) Reach %   Rank Property Unique Visitors (000) Reach %
  Total Internet Users 152,056 100%          
1 Yahoo! 107,170 71%   26 AOL Prop Instant Message 25,233 17%
2 Advertising.com** 106,469 70%   27 Tickle, Inc. 24,470 16%
3 MSN 96,730 64%   28 Yahoo! News 24,156 16%
4 YAHOO.COM Home Page 70,462 46%   29 Real.com Media Sites 23,922 16%
5 GOOGLE.COM 59,502 39%   30 My Yahoo! 23,874 16%
6 Yahoo! Search 57,622 38%   31 MSN Messenger Service 23,740 16%
7 MaxOnline** 56,335 37%   32 REAL.COM 22,988 15%
8 Google Web Search 55,198 36%   33 ABOUT.COM 22,685 15%
9 ValueClick Network** 53,299 35%   34 Excite Network 22,498 15%
10 Yahoo! Mail 52,660 35%   35 WEATHER.COM 22,308 15%
11 MaxOnline Network** 52,392 35%   36 AOL Prop News 22,307 15%
12 MSN.COM Home Page 50,914 34%   37 AOL.COM Home Page 22,058 15%
13 AOL Proprietary 49,193 32%   38 ClickAgents Network** 21,498 14%
14 MSN Search 49,099 32%   39 CNN 21,466 14%
15 Tribal Fusion** 47,908 32%   40 GATOR.COM 21,186 14%
16 MSN Hotmail 45,417 30%   41 Gator Sites 21,186 14%
17 Lycos 42,216 28%   42 Tickle Personals 20,803 14%
18 AOL Prop Email 40,219 26%   43 BURST! Media Youths and Students** 20,638 14%
19 BURST! Media** 38,018 25%   44 Yahoo! Messenger 20,138 13%
20 Claria 34,196 23%   45 MSNBC 19,967 13%
21 AOL Prop Search 34,006 22%   46 MSNBC.COM 19,797 13%
22 Yahoo! Geocities 32,980 22%   47 Yahoo! Shopping 19,681 13%
23 24/7 Real Media** 32,687 22%   48 Yahoo! Get Local 19,580 13%
24 GATOR (App) 30,254 20%   49 Netscape 18,737 12%
25 MAPQUEST.COM 29,372 19%   50 AOL Prop Personal Finance 18,646 12%

**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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