Americans Kick Off the Year Online with Taxes, Diets and Vacations on Their Minds

Comscore Media Metrix Releases January Web Rankings and Analysis

RESTON, Va., Feb. 21, 2005 – Comscore Media Metrix today released its monthly analysis of consumer activity at top online properties and categories. With 2005 upon them, Americans turned to tax, diet, careers and travel sites to begin planning the year ahead.

“January’s annual rituals, including the kickoff of tax season, spring break vacation planning and the search for the perfect diet, translated to substantial gains for category leaders,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “The beginning of the president’s second term provided the material for another JibJab film, which landed the site in the top gaining properties ranking for the third time in the past 12 months.”

W-2 Forms Hit Mailboxes and Americans Hit the Web
With W-2 forms landing in mailboxes across the country, Americans turned to the Web to prepare and file their tax returns. The Taxes category drew the top spot on this month’s ranking of the top gaining properties, with an increase of 235 percent compared to December (see table 2). Nearly 21 million Internet users visited tax sites last month, an increase of 12 percent compared to January 2004.

The top gaining property in January was HRBlock.com, which drew 4.1 million visitors, an increase of 636 percent compared to December (see table 1). IRS.gov also saw a triple digit increase (238 percent), attracting 11 million visitors in January. An 840-percent increase in traffic to TurboTax.com drove Intuit up 68 percent, making it January’s ninth largest gaining property.

Diet and Careers Sites Help Americans Make Good on New Year’s Resolutions
With December’s indulgences behind them and warmer weather approaching, millions of Americans turned to diet sites to help them shed unwanted pounds. Traffic to eDiets more than doubled between December and January. Nearly 7.9 million people visited the site in January, an increase of 126 percent. Weight Watchers International was the resource of choice for 4.3 million Americans, an increase of 77 percent from December.

While some Americans fulfilled their New Year’s resolutions by starting a diet, for others, a career move was in order. Three Career Services subcategories made this month’s ranking of the top gaining categories. The Job Search subcategory grew 32 percent in January to 16.2 million visitors. Monster.com Job Search, CareerBuilder.com Job Search and Yahoo! HotJobs Job Search all posted double-digit increases in January.

CareerBuilder traffic increased by 78 percent through seasonality and promotional activity, landing it in the number 6 spot on this month’s top gaining properties ranking and contributing to a 29-percent increase in visitors to the Career Resources subcategory. Double-digit traffic increases at Fastweb, a scholarship search site owned by Monster.com, and EducationDirect, a distance learning site owned by the Thomson Corporation, joined forces to boost the Training and Education subcategory up by 20 percent – enough to secure the last spot on this month’s top gaining category ranking.

Millions Turn to the Web to Plan and Book Spring and Summer Travel
A wide range of travel merchants and resources saw seasonal increases in January as consumers began the process of planning spring and summer vacations. Four of January’s top ten gaining categories were Travel subcategories. The Ground/Cruise subcategory led the way, posting a 48 percent increase between December and January. VacationsToGo.com, a discount cruise merchant and the category’s largest site, jumped 99 percent to finish at 3.5 million visitors in January. Carnival.com, RoyalCaribbean.com and Princess.com posted increases of 105, 79 and 67 percent respectively.

The top 20 sites in the Hotels/Resorts category all posted double-digit increases between December and January, boosting category traffic by 22 percent. Even more impressive, the category is up 32 percent compared to last January, a result of hotel suppliers’ continued efforts to become direct booking destinations for consumers. The Airlines category also saw an impressive pickup in traffic in January, jumping 22 percent. Traffic at Delta Airlines soared 80 percent, driven by the launch of its new SimpliFares fare structure. United Airlines posted a 53-percent jump in site traffic, as it faced a blizzard of activity among travelers seeking information and assistance in the face of harsh winter weather. Both Delta and United qualified for the month’s top gaining properties ranking as a result of these sharp increases.

Top 50 Properties
CareerBuilder LLC moved 37 spots up the ladder to 25th place in January’s Top 50 Properties, through online marketing and promotion, as well as its relationships with AOL and MSN. A new version of its Adobe Reader product drove a 37-percent increase in visitors to Adobe Sites, which was number 61 in December and finished at number 36 in January. Among sites in both December and January’s Top 50 Properties, Apple Computer Inc. had the largest jump, moving up 21 spots to number 27. The site benefited from hundreds of thousands of consumers installing the iTunes software packaged with the iPod they received in December as well as 5.5 million visitors to a widely circulated Mac homepage featuring before and after pictures of areas affected by the Asian tsunami. Finally, various promotions on HGTV.com drove a traffic increase of over 3 million visitors at E.W. Scripps, corresponding to a 12-spot gain to number 34.

Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking
Advertising.com and Yahoo! claimed the top 2 spots in the Ad Focus ranking, as they have in every month since May 2004 (see table 4). The rest of the top 10 Ad Focus entities stayed the same in January as in December, except for Tribal Fusion, which moved 1 spot to claim the number 10 ranking.

CareerBuilder Network gained 12 spots to move to January’s number 28. Increased news coverage of volatile weather and the mudslides in California boosted MSNBC 3 spots to finish at number 24 in January's ad focus ranking. Finally, the sale of U2 concert and Major League Baseball tickets buoyed Ticketmaster.com 6 places to the final spot in the top 50.

TABLE 1

Top Ten Gaining Properties by Percentage Change in Unique Visitors*
January 2005 vs. December 2004
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Property Dec-04
(000)
Jan-05
(000)
Percentage
Change
Rank by
Unique Visitors
Total Internet Population 161,142 162,201 1% N/A
HRBLOCK.COM 558 4,104 636% 184
IRS.GOV 3,248 10,989 238% 57
eDiets 3,488 7,877 126% 89
VACATIONSTOGO.COM 1,761 3,496 99% 210
Delta Airlines 4,526 8,133 80% 87
CareerBuilder LLC 10,854 19,273 78% 25
Weight Watchers International 2,430 4,299 77% 177
JibJab Media 1,803 3,133 74% 241
Intuit 6,272 10,534 68% 62
United Airlines 2,897 4,439 53% 168

*Ranking based on the top 250 properties in January

TABLE 2
 

Top Ten Gaining Categories by Unique Visitors
January 2005 vs. December 2004
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Dec-04
(000)
Jan-05(000) Percentage Change
Total Internet Population 161,142 162,201 1%
Business/Finance - Taxes 6,145 20,556 235%
Travel - Ground/Cruise 7,699 11,396 48%
Career Services - Job Search 12,295 16,172 32%
Career Services - Career Resources 27,479 35,447 29%
Real Estate 25,689 31,636 23%
Travel - Information 28,863 35,424 23%
Travel - Hotels/Resorts 20,892 25,560 22%
Travel - Airlines 23,198 28,323 22%
Classifieds 17,527 21,368 22%
Career Services - Training and Education 6,457 7,744 20%

TABLE 3
 

Top 50 Properties
January 2005
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 162,201        
1 Yahoo! Sites 118,194   26 iVillage.com: The Womens Network 18,955
2 Time Warner Network 115,011   27 Apple Computer, Inc. 18,231
3 MSN-Microsoft Sites 112,774   28 Gorilla Nation Media 17,828
4 Google Sites 74,817   29 Gannett Sites 17,111
5 eBay 62,427   30 ORBITZ.COM 16,991
6 Amazon Sites 41,557   31 Trip Network Inc. 15,939
7 Ask Jeeves 41,036   32 Bank of America 15,936
8 About/Primedia 37,886   33 Target Corporation 15,689
9 Viacom Online 35,111   34 E.W. Scripps 15,687
10 Weather Channel, The 33,658   35 Shopzilla.com Sites 15,179
11 Symantec 32,531   36 Adobe Sites 15,047
12 Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) 29,454   37 OVERSTOCK.COM 14,842
13 CNET Networks 28,466   38 JPMorgan Chase Property 14,505
14 Monster Worldwide 28,116   39 Dell 14,437
15 Lycos, Inc. 27,746   40 ESPN Network 14,194
16 Verizon Communications Corporation 27,507   41 News Corp. Online 14,059
17 Shopping.com Sites 22,622   42 Travelocity 13,917
18 Expedia Travel 22,054   43 Comcast Corporation 13,825
19 Intermix Media 21,553   44 SBC Communications 13,502
20 Real.com Network 20,966   45 Sony Online 13,063
21 Wal-Mart 20,915   46 COOLSAVINGS.COM 13,059
22 AT&T Properties 20,779   47 NFL Internet Group 13,023
23 Weatherbug.com Property 20,761   48 Classmates.com Sites 12,836
24 InfoSpace Network 20,426   49 Cox Enterprises Inc. 12,479
25 CareerBuilder LLC 19,273   50 AmericanGreetings Property 12,297

 TABLE 4

Ad Focus Ranking
Unique Visitors (000)
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
January 2005
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Rank Property Unique Visitors
(000)
Reach %   Rank Property Unique Visitors (000) Reach %
  Total Internet Users 162,201 100%          
1 Advertising.com** 127,948 79%   26 Expedia Travel 22,054 14%
2 Yahoo! 116,787 72%   27 CNN 21,913 14%
3 Fastclick** 115,474 71%   28 CareerBuilder Network 21,267 13%
4 MSN 97,973 60%   29 WeatherBug 20,340 13%
5 TrafficMarketplace** 91,211 56%   30 GATOR (App) 20,257 12%
6 AOL 87,061 54%   31 MaxOnline** 19,909 12%
7 Casale Media Network** 82,316 51%   32 iVillage.com: The Womens Network 18,955 12%
8 YAHOO.COM Home Page 75,007 46%   33 Travelocity All 17,517 11%
9 GOOGLE.COM 72,074 44%   34 Netscape 17,513 11%
10 Tribal Fusion** 66,491 41%   35 Disney Online 17,276 11%
11 EBAY.COM 59,394 37%   36 REAL.COM 17,270 11%
12 ValueClick Media** 52,845 33%   37 ORBITZ.COM 16,991 10%
13 MSN.COM Home Page 52,488 32%   38 MONSTER.COM 16,052 10%
14 BURST! Media** 45,908 28%   39 SuperPages Network 14,369 9%
15 24/7 Real Media** 42,913 26%   40 ESPN Network 14,194 9%
16 Ask Jeeves 41,036 25%   41 EA Online Syndicated Games 13,581 8%
17 Vendare Group Search-New.Net Sites 40,820 25%   42 WebMD Health Network 13,093 8%
18 MAPQUEST.COM 35,480 22%   43 CLASSMATES.COM 12,836 8%
19 EBAY.COM Home Page 34,804 21%   44 BIZRATE.COM 12,577 8%
20 WEATHER.COM 32,365 20%   45 CHEAPTICKETS.COM 12,369 8%
21 Lycos Network 27,650 17%   46 IMDB.COM 12,028 7%
22 ClickAgents Network** 24,794 15%   47 EA Online Games 10,885 7%
23 ABOUT.COM 23,380 14%   48 GO.COM 10,766 7%
24 MSNBC 22,338 14%   49 INFOSPACE.COM 10,484 6%
25 CNET 22,275 14%   50 TICKETMASTER.COM 9,987 6%

**Indicates that the 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 and attitudes. This capability is based on a massive, global cross-section of more than 2 million consumers who have given Comscore explicit permission to confidentially capture their browsing and transaction behavior, including online and offline purchasing. Comscore panelists also participate in survey research that captures and integrates their attitudes and intentions. Through its patent-pending technology, Comscore measures what matters across a broad spectrum of behavior and attitudes. Comscore consultants apply this deep knowledge of customers and competitors to help clients design powerful marketing strategies and tactics that deliver superior ROI. Comscore services are used by global leaders such as AOL, Yahoo!, Verizon, Best Buy, The Newspaper Association of America, Tribune Interactive, ESPN, Nestlé, Bank of America, Universal McCann, the United States Postal Service, GlaxoSmithKline and Orbitz. For more information, please visit www.comscore.com.

Press
Bill Daddi
Daddi Brand Communications
646-370-1341
press@comscore.com

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