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Yahoo! Tops January Internet Traffic

From their press release:

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