Travel, Real Estate, Automotive and Apparel See Spring Growth
RESTON, Va. April 22, 2004 – Comscore Media Metrix today announced the Top 50 U.S. Internet Properties for the month of March 2004. In March, the active online population across U.S. home, work and university PCs totaled 154.1 million people. Spring break and Easter travel planning fueled increases across virtually all major sites in the Hotels & Resorts category, making it the top gaining category in March. With the mid-March airing of Wrestlemania XX, World Wrestling Entertainment grew by more than 50 percent versus February to become the top gaining online property this month.
“Many of this month’s traffic shifts were tied to the beginning of spring season and all that it brings,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “Spring break, continued interest in auto- and home- buying, the onset of allergy season and the search for warm-weather apparel were key contributors to gains across a wide array of categories.”
Top 50 PropertiesThree properties entered the Top 50 Properties in March (see table 1). Traffic to the online version of Target’s weekly promotional circular boosted Target Corporation 8 spots to number 47, while MyFamily Network moved 7 spots to number 49. Finally, Hewlett Packard moved up 1 spot to round out the Top 50 Properties.
Among the properties in both the February and March Top 50 rankings, iVillage.com and Travelocity posted the biggest moves. Seasonal holiday travel planning, boosted by a widely publicized site redesign, pushed Travelocity 7 spots higher to number 39. iVillage.com moved up 9 spots to number 26, largely as a result of the addition of Agora Media to its property.
Travel, Real Estate, Automotive and Apparel See Spring Growth Internet users scouring the Web for spring break and Easter holiday hotel deals drove the Hotels & Resorts category up 15 percent versus February, the largest increase of any category in March (see table 2). Eight of the top 10 properties in the category saw double-digit increases in March.
Hotel suppliers have been fostering more direct consumer interaction with their brands, and those efforts may indeed have accelerated category growth, with the Hotels & Resorts category growing an impressive 31 percent versus year-ago. A number of hotel supplier properties, such as Intercontinental Hotels, ChoiceHotels.com, Harrahs.com, Radisson Hotels and Ramada.com, increased by approximately 50 percent or more versus March 2003. Marriott and Intercontinental Hotels both ranked among the top ten gaining properties from February to March, posting increases of 44 and 25 percent, respectively.
Spring break travel was also a likely contributor to a 7-percent increase in visitors to the Maps category. In total, more than 45 million people, or about one in three Internet users, visited the category in March. More than half of all visitors to the Hotels & Resorts category also visited the Maps category, underscoring the importance of the Web as a pre-trip planning resource for millions of travelers – and the value of interactive marketing to advertisers in markets visited by those travelers.
A number of entertainment events contributed to substantial gains at several properties and categories in March. With the March 14 airing of Wrestlemania XX – the Super Bowl of professional wrestling – World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) had all other top gaining properties up against the ropes. WWE packed in 2.8 million unique visitors in March, representing an increase of nearly one million unique visitors or more than 50 percent versus February, and making WWE the champion among top gaining Web properties for the month (see table 3).
Coverage of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, buildup to the Major League Baseball season (and related fantasy league activity) and early coverage and analysis of the NFL draft helped Sportsline.com Sites and Fox Interactive Media post increases of 48 and 30 percent, respectively.
“Bush Shootout,” a spoof game featuring President Bush and Condoleezza Rice, helped MiniClip.com shoot up 44 percent versus February. The game, which was widely circulated by e-mail in March, drew an impressive 1.4 million visitors in the month.
The approach of warmer weather along with the looming threat of rising interest rates drove the Automotive-Resources and Real Estate categories up by 13 and 9 percent, respectively. Auto-Resources growth leaders in March included AOL Proprietary Auto, Automotive.com and Autobytel, which each saw increases of 15 percent or more.
The search for spring and summer clothes, along with prior season closeouts, propelled most major properties in the Retail-Apparel category up in March. Among the top 20 Apparel category properties, ColdwaterCreek.com, BananaRepublic.com, LLBean.com, Alloy and OldNavy.com posted the largest month-over-month increases. Comscore online sales data have shown apparel to be one of the largest and strongest growth categories in the past year, and the arrival of warm weather to major U.S. cities offers online retailers opportunities to continue that trend.
Finally, with the onset of allergy season, the Health-Information category jumped 11 percent from February to March, with nearly every major site in the category showing month-over-month increases.
Top 50 Ad Focus RankingIntroduced 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 (see table 4).
The composition and order of the top five Ad Focus entities remained constant from February to March, while MSN.COM Homepage and AOL Proprietary cracked the top ten by taking the final two spots. In addition, ClickAgents Network and Yahoo! Get Local jumped 13 and 8 spots to claim the number 25 and 40 rankings, respectively.
*Ranking based on the top 250 properties in March
**Indicates that this entity is an advertising network.
About Comscore Media MetrixComscore 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 NetworksComscore 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.
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