The State of Social Media
Comscore Media Metrix Releases March Web Rankings and Analysis
RESTON, VA, April 22, 2005 – Comscore Media Metrix today released its monthly analysis of consumer activity at top online properties and categories. NCAA Basketball’s March Madness and the kickoff of the baseball season drove sports-related content to dominate this month’s top gaining properties ranking.
“March was clearly a heavy month for news and sports content. Whether it was the frenzy over March Madness or interest in more serious topics such as Terri Schiavo or Pope John Paul II, consumers turned to the Web for the latest developments,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “For many consumers, especially those at work, the Web is the primary means of keeping up-to-the-minute on breaking stories and searching for more in-depth info on news of interest.”
Sports Enthusiasts Also Fans of Surfing for InformationSports sites comprised half of the top 10 gaining properties in March, with NCAA, Sportsline.com Sites and ESPN.com all posting double or triple-digit growth compared to February. NCAA posted a dramatic increase of nearly 500 percent over February 2005, and a year-over-year increase of 11-percent. Student Advantage, which owns the Official College Sports Network, also benefited from March Madness with an increase of 42 percent over February.
Americans Show Interest in Heritage and Religion Discovering family heritage, as well as researching information about relatives, is easier than ever thanks to online genealogy sites. Genealogy was the top-gaining category in March 2005 with an increase of 31 percent, due in part to specific properties’ efforts to lure new customers. Driving this category’s growth, Ancestry Sites experienced remarkable growth of 38 percent by offering free trials and utilizing effective banner advertising.
Posting gains of 22 percent over February, the Religion category was the third-largest gaining category in March. The combination of a favorable comparison to last year (when Easter occurred in April instead of March) and the intense coverage surrounding Pope John Paul II also resulted in an increase of 53 percent compared to March 2004.
Travel Categories Grow Due to Easter and Spring BreakTravel subcategories comprised four of the top ten spots in the top gaining category ranking. As Americans made plans to visit family for Easter, begin planning summer travel or finalize plans for Spring Break, they turned to the Web for both research and booking capabilities. More than 6.2 million Americans visited Car Rental sites in March 2005, an increase of nearly 30 percent over February. The Travel - Information category also experienced notable gains, with visitation to such sites increasing by 14 percent in March to reach 38.8 million unique visitors.
Television Advertising Drives Gains at Jamba! Ringtone SitesA notable increase in cable TV advertisements for Jamster.com, the cell phone ringtone provider, helped push Jamba! Sites up by 159 percent compared to February 2005. Jamba! Sites have been popular in the UK and Europe, but with the growing popularity of downloadable ringtones, combined with the brand’s recent push in advertising, it has experienced substantial growth in the US market as well.
Consumers Take Advantage of Free Credit ChecksFollowing the midwestern region roll-out of the amended Fair Credit Reporting Act, traffic to GUS (the British holding company of Experian) increased 42% over February 2005 to nearly 3.5 million consumers. The amendment, which permits consumers to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the credit reporting companies, is being implemented over time on a regional basis.
Top 50 PropertiesIn March, CNET entered into the top 10 property ranking at number 10 and attracted 19 percent more visitors than in the previous month. The NCAA Tournament and the beginning of the Major League Baseball season helped ESPN attract 4.2 million more visitors in March than in February and soar 18 spots to number 33.
Among sites in both the February and March Top 50 Properties, News Corp. Online had the largest jump, as 17.7 million Americans turned to the site, primarily to view both American Idol and news content. News content, specifically relating to the Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson cases, drove a 13-percent increase in traffic to Gannett Sites, which jumped 6 spots to number 26. Classmates.com Sites gained 10 spots to finish at number 37, while Target Corporation and Overstock.com each gained 6 spots to finish at number 28 and 32, respectively. Finally, the rush to secure tickets upcoming events such as the U2 concert series baseball and Major League Baseball games, drove a 10-percent increase in traffic at Ticketmaster, the final property in March’s Top 50 Properties.
Top 50 Ad Focus RankingAdvertising.com enjoyed its 11th consecutive month atop the Ad Focus Ranking, reaching 78 percent of all Americans online. Fastclick attracted 5.7 million more visitors than in February to nudge into the number 2 position, and Yahoo! attracted 4.2 million more visitors at number 3. The rest of the top 10 Ad Focus entities stayed the same in March.
ESPN had the largest gain of any ranked Ad Focus entity; its 34-percent gain in visitation translated into a 7-spot climb to number 38. Intense news coverage of the Terri Schiavo and Michael Jackson cases drove CNN.com Homepage and MSNBC up 7 and 3 spots to number 50 and 22, respectively. Finally, traffic relating to The Suite Life of Zack & Cody powered a 19-percent increase in traffic at Go.com, which rose 5 spots to enter March’s Ad Focus Ranking at number 47.
*Ranking based on the top 250 properties in March
Reach % denotes the percentage of the total Internet population that views a particular entity at least once in March. For instance, Yahoo! was seen by 72 percent of the over 164 million Internet users in March. The notation “**”indicates that the 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 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.
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