Fall Television Season, Back-to-School and the Election Drive Substantial Web Traffic Increases in September

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

RESTON, Va., Oct. 15, 2004 – Comscore Media Metrix today released its monthly analysis of consumer Internet behavior. This month’s report revealed that the kickoff of the fall television season drove substantial traffic increases at both network sites and television content provider sites, such as AOL Television and MSN Television. In addition, Oprah’s heavily publicized Pontiac giveaway landed Oxygen Media, which includes Oprah.com, in the number one position on this month’s ranking of the top gaining properties.

Other highlights of online behavior in September include:

  • As students returned to the classroom in August and September, they also returned to the Web for homework help and online research. Education-Information and Reference were both among the top ten gaining categories in September.
  • After leading in July and August, JohnKerry.com lost the traffic advantage to GeorgeWBush.com in September. President Bush’s campaign site jumped by 44 percent in September to close the month with 2.5 million visitors.
  • A turbulent hurricane season helped increase traffic to the already quickly growing Weather category. The category, which is up 32 percent versus last year, gained 15 percent between August and September.

“Traffic increases this month highlight just how vital the Web has become in American life,” said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of Comscore Media Metrix. “Whether it’s students using the Internet for school research, voters staying informed during the presidential race or TV fans following their favorite program online, the ubiquity of the broadband-enabled Web has profoundly changed the way we seek out entertainment and consume information.”

Kickoff of Fall Television Season Drives Millions to TV Category
With the kickoff of the fall television season, 57 million Americans – more than a third of the Internet population – visited the TV category in September. This represents an increase of 7.6 million visitors, or 15 percent, versus August – more than twice the August-to-September increase recorded last year by the TV category.

Increases at nearly every major site helped the TV category land the top spot in the ranking of top gaining categories in September. While UPN.com is the smallest network site in terms of audience size (833,000 visitors), it drew by far the largest increase between August and September – more than 170 percent. Visitation to the site is also up nearly 200 percent versus September 2003. Similarly, TheWB.com drew half as many visitors as did CBS.com, ABC.com and NBC.com, but it posted an above average increase of 68 percent between August and September. Fox.com drew the third-largest increase among the six major networks (60 percent), while CBS.com and ABC.com jumped by 28 and 27 percent, respectively. NBC.com, which had unusually high levels of traffic in August as a result of Olympic coverage, declined by 7 percent in September.

Among portals and other TV-related information providers, AOL Television and MSN Television posted the largest gains, each closing the month 65 percent higher in September than in August. Yahoo! TV and TVGuide.com also generated impressive gains of 36 and 20 percent, respectively.

Oxygen Media, which includes Oprah.com, jumped 122 percent, largely as a result of Oprah’s highly publicized giveaway of Pontiac G6 automobiles to each of her audience members. As Comscore previously reported, Oprah.com received more than 200,000 visitors per day at its peak. Pontiac.com also benefited from the promotion. In September, 842,000 users visited the site, an increase of 56 percent versus the prior month.

Back-to-School Usage Boosts Information and Resource Sites
With the academic year now in full swing, reference and information sites saw substantial increases as students turned to the Web for help with homework and research. The Education-Information category, which includes About.com’s Homework Help channel, the Family Education Network and Yahoo! Education, was this month’s second-largest gaining category. Nearly 38 million people visited Education-Information sites in September, an increase of 14 percent versus August.

A number of reference sites were among this month’s top ten gaining properties. Wikipedia.org, the free online encyclopedia, drew just over 3 million visitors in September, an increase of 61 percent from the previous month. Encyclopaedia Britannica also benefited significantly from student traffic, posting an audience increase of 37 percent compared to August. Lexico Publishing Group, which runs Reference.com, Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, saw a 40-percent bump in traffic to close the month with 6.5 million visitors. In total, traffic to the Reference category increased by 8 percent, making it the 9th-largest gaining category in September.

Bush Takes the Lead from Kerry Online
Nearly 2.5 million Americans visited GeorgeWBush.com in September, an increase of 44 percent versus August. In the past ten months, the race between President Bush and Senator Kerry has been as closely contested online as it has been offline. While JohnKerry.com drew 2.2 million visitors in September, a modest increase of 5 percent versus August, GeorgeWBush.com saw a substantial pickup in visitation, landing the site ahead this month by a margin of less than 250,000 visitors. In total, 18 million people visited the Politics category in September 2004, more than a 50 percent increase versus a year ago.

Turbulent Hurricane Season Drives Storm Trackers Online
In September, millions turned to sites in the Weather category to track this year’s highly active hurricane season. Nearly every site in the category posted increases, including The Weather Channel (15 percent increase vs. August), Weatherbug.com (10 percent) and AOL Weather (9 percent). An increase in traffic of more than 140 percent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped land the Department of Commerce in the number two spot in the ranking of top gaining properties. The increase at the Department of Commerce was enough to push the entire Government category up by 7 percent, ranking it at number 10 in this month’s top gaining categories standings.

While this year’s hurricane season has no doubt been a boon for weather sites, the category has seen a steady increase in traffic over the past year. Compared to last year, the Weather category is up by more than 30 percent. The increase is particularly pronounced among home users (38 percent increase vs. year-ago). This trend is driven primarily by increased broadband adoption, which has helped to make checking the weather online a simple, daily ritual for millions of home users.

Top 50 Properties
The composition and rank order of the top 5 properties remained static from August to September, while 2 properties moved up to grab the final spots in the September top 10. Two live virus updates drove a 62-percent increase in visitation to Symantec, which in turn fueled an 8-spot increase to land Symantec at number 9 in September’s ranking. The busy hurricane season also drove almost 4 million more Americans to The Weather Channel in September than in August, helping the property jump 2 spots to lock in the final position in September’s top 10. An increase in visitation of 109 percent to the Department of Commerce (driven by the NOAA) was the largest gain by any property in September’s Top 50. The Department of Commerce moved from a ranking of 68 in August to number 22 in September.

The start of the NFL season provided a boost to the NFL Internet Group, which went from number 50 in August to number 33 in September; the 17-spot gain was the largest of any property ranked in the Top 50 in both months. Increased interest in sports and hurricane coverage at USAToday.com contributed to a five-spot climb for Gannett Sites, which landed at number 23 in September. Buoyed by a month-long promotion at HGTV.com, E.W. Scripps gained 10 spots to edge into the Top 50 at number 48.

Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking
Comscore Media Metrix’s ranking of advertising-supported media brands includes media properties, such as Yahoo! and MSN, as well as advertising networks, such as Advertising.com and TribalFusion. Instead of focusing on corporate ownership, this reporting mirrors, as closely as possible, the manner in which advertising is actually packaged and sold. With this ranking, media planners and buyers can more easily evaluate interactive marketing options on an equal footing.

The composition and rank order of the top 4 Ad Focus entities remained the same from August to September, while ValueClick Media jumped 6 spots and almost 6 million visitors to claim September’s number 15 ranking. The unprecedented hurricane season, combined with increased election coverage, led to increases at AOL News, CNN News and Yahoo! News – each of which gained more than 6 spots to finish in September’s Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking.

Comscore Announces Enhancements to Reach/Frequency Tool
Comscore Media Metrix is the only audience measurement service to track and report on advertising networks. With the release of September data, Comscore is pleased to announce the integration of advertising networks into the company’s Campaign Reach/Frequency tool. For the first time ever, media planners can now compare both advertising networks and traditional Internet properties side-by-side. This capability allows planners to comprehensively evaluate online media alternatives and develop strategies to more efficiently and effectively reach their campaign goals.

The Comscore Media Metrix Reach/Frequency tool is used by dozens of leading advertising agencies. The report allows for comparative analysis of online media plans, site-by-site and channel-by-channel. Media planners can analyze reach and frequency measures based on targeted impression levels for user-specified target audiences. The tool allows users to determine if a targeted number of impressions at a given set of sites will meet the reach, frequency and GRP objectives for the target audience.

Comscore tracks and reports on the following advertising networks:

  • 24/7 Reach Media
  • Advertising.com
  • BURST! Media
  • ClickAgents Network
  • MaxOnline
  • Tribal Fusion
  • ValueClick Media

TABLE 1
 

Top Ten Gaining Properties by Percentage Change in Unique Visitors*
September 2004 vs. August 2004
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Property Aug-04 (000) Sep-04 (000) Percentage Change Rank by Unique Visitors
Total Internet Users 157,769 158,042 0% N/A
Oxygen Media 1,329 2,957 122% 225
Department of Commerce 8,691 18,142 109% 22
Symantec 20,181 32,627 62% 9
WIKIPEDIA.ORG 1,888 3,030 61% 216
WUNDERGROUND.COM 2,270 3,516 55% 185
Condenet Sites 2,854 3,991 40% 165
Lexico Publishing Group 4,634 6,464 40% 91
PBS.ORG 2,160 3,010 39% 218
Encyclopaedia Britannica 2,817 3,855 37% 173
WASHINGTONPOST.COM 2,864 3,901 36% 170

*Ranking based on the top 250 properties in September

TABLE 2
 

Top Ten Gaining Categories by Unique Visitors
September 2004 vs. August 2004
Total U.S. Home, Work and University Internet Users
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
  Aug-04 (000) Sep-04 (000) Percentage Change
Total Internet Users 157,769 158,042 0%
Entertainment-TV 49,764 57,378 15%
Education-Information 33,023 37,622 14%
Politics 15,794 17,888 13%
Business/Finance-News/Research 38,219 42,772 12%
Weather 50,053 55,245 10%
Hobbies/Lifestyle-Food 22,759 24,871 9%
Retail-Food 11,160 12,150 9%
Business/Finance-Online Trading 10,190 11,077 9%
Directories/Resources-Reference 53,611 58,062 8%
Government 64,573 69,687 8%

TABLE 3
 

Top 50 Properties
Unique Visitors (000)
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
September 2004
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Rank Property Unique Visitors (000)   Rank Property Unique Visitors (000)
  Total Internet Users 158,042        
1 Yahoo! Sites 114,243   26 Classmates.com Sites 16,029
2 Time Warner Network 112,332   27 Wal-Mart 15,771
3 MSN-Microsoft Sites 109,987   28 ESPN 15,449
4 Google Sites 65,098   29 Intermix Media 15,115
5 eBay 58,886   30 Bank of America 15,115
6 Ask Jeeves 38,081   31 Shopping.com Sites 14,997
7 About/Primedia 35,483   32 iVillage.com: The Womens Network 14,468
8 Amazon Sites 34,344   33 NFL Internet Group 14,450
9 Symantec 32,627   34 ORBITZ.COM 13,862
10 Weather Channel, The 30,362   35 CareerBuilder LLC 13,861
11 Viacom Online 29,718   36 United Online, Inc 13,622
12 Terra Lycos 29,665   37 Cox Enterprises Inc. 13,388
13 Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG) 26,197   38 EA Online 13,224
14 Monster Worldwide 25,933   39 Comcast Corporation 12,854
15 CNET Networks 25,635   40 News Corp. Online 12,401
16 Verizon Communications Corporation 24,689   41 Macromedia 12,213
17 Real.com Network 23,865   42 Bizrate Sites 11,949
18 Weatherbug.com Property 21,014   43 Dell 11,580
19 Expedia Travel 18,716   44 Sony Online 11,529
20 Gorilla Nation Media 18,613   45 JPMorgan Chase Property 11,494
21 InfoSpace Network 18,524   46 Target Corporation 11,419
22 Department of Commerce 18,142   47 Adobe Sites 11,078
23 Gannett Sites 17,434   48 E.W. Scripps 11,058
24 AT&T Properties 17,303   49 Travelocity 10,906
25 SBC Communications 16,881   50 Trip Network Inc. 10,844

TABLE 4
 

Ad Focus Ranking
Unique Visitors (000)
Total U.S. - Home, Work and University Locations
September 2004
Source: Comscore Media Metrix
Rank Property Unique Visitors (000) Reach %   Rank Property Unique Visitors (000) Reach %
  Total Internet Users 158,042 100%          
1 Advertising.com** 119,164 75%   26 EBAY.COM Home Page 33,718 21%
2 Yahoo! 112,663 71%   27 MAPQUEST.COM 33,478 21%
3 MSN 95,349 60%   28 AOL Prop Search 31,953 20%
4 AOL 84,614 54%   29 WEATHER.COM 29,010 18%
5 TRAFFICMP.COM 80,580 51%   30 ClickAgents Network** 28,358 18%
6 YAHOO.COM Home Page 73,417 46%   31 Lycos 28,068 18%
7 GOOGLE.COM 62,609 40%   32 My Yahoo! 27,884 18%
8 Yahoo! Search 61,325 39%   33 AIM.COM/AIM App 27,484 17%
9 Yahoo! Web Search 59,737 38%   34 Claria 26,878 17%
10 Yahoo! Mail 58,350 37%   35 Yahoo! Geocities 26,573 17%
11 Google Web Search 57,427 36%   36 Monster Worldwide 25,933 16%
12 EBAY.COM 55,927 35%   37 WindowsMedia 25,594 16%
13 Tribal Fusion** 55,259 35%   38 AOL Screenname 25,264 16%
14 MSN Homepages 54,841 35%   39 AOL Entertainment 25,197 16%
15 ValueClick Media** 50,296 32%   40 GATOR (App) 24,547 16%
16 MSN.COM Home Page 48,876 31%   41 Yahoo! News 24,229 15%
17 AOL Email 48,073 30%   42 Yahoo! Messenger 23,961 15%
18 AOL (APP) 46,791 30%   43 AIMTODAY.COM 23,834 15%
19 MSN Search 45,501 29%   44 WINDOWSMEDIA.COM 23,543 15%
20 24/7 Real Media** 43,923 28%   45 Real.com Media Sites 23,379 15%
21 MSN Hotmail 42,899 27%   46 CNN 23,365 15%
22 AOL Prop Email 42,230 27%   47 MSN Messenger Service 22,908 14%
23 Ask Jeeves 38,081 24%   48 AOL News 22,006 14%
24 BURST! Media** 37,531 24%   49 AOL Instant Message 21,898 14%
25 AOL Search 34,554 22%   50 ABOUT.COM 21,674 14%

**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, Microsoft, 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.

Contact:
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Comscore, Inc.
+1 312 775 6510
press@comscore.com



 

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