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New Year's Resolutions Reflected in January U.S. Web Traffic


Monday, February 19, 2007; 04:19 AM

comScore Media Metrix today released its monthly analysis of U.S. consumer activity at top online properties and categories for January 2007. In keeping with annual trends, January saw significant increases in visitation to tax, travel, careers and real estate sites. Heightened interest in tax software and Microsoft's Vista operating system boosted traffic to the Computer Software category, while mounting speculation about 2008 Presidential candidates drove traffic to politically-oriented sites.

"As we've witnessed on an annual basis, consumers turned to the Web at the beginning of the year in a very utilitarian fashion, with an eye toward planning," said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. "Traffic to Tax sites continued to grow versus December, and Travel sites also saw increases as Americans explored ways to escape the winter doldrums. Politics also captured consumers' attention, as politicians turned to the Web as their primary vehicle to announce their candidacies for the first time. In addition, Americans took keen interest in potential career changes and housing moves in January."

Americans Get a Head Start on Taxes

January marked the official start of the annual tax season in the U.S., and Americans hit the Web in force in preparation of filing their 2006 tax returns, driving the Tax category to the top-gaining category for the month, virtually tripling its December traffic totals. Led by IRS.gov, which had 13.3 million visitors (a 205-percent increase versus December to make it the top gaining property for the month), the category saw a 199-percent increase to 22.4 million visitors.

Computer Software Category Continues Upward Climb

Even as other retail-oriented categories returned to previous visitation levels after the holiday season, the Computer Software category bucked the trend with a 20-percent surge in January. Intuit, developer of finance software packages such as TurboTax, Quicken, and QuickBooks, grew 189-percent with 11.5 million unique visitors to make it the second-largest gaining site overall. The highly anticipated rollout of Microsoft Vista also drove category traffic, with sites such as Buy.com, Symantec Store, PCSecurityShield.com, Microsoft Product Info, and Trendmicro.com all finishing within the category's top ten.

Americans Looking to Escape Winter Doldrums

Americans looking to escape frigid conditions around the country and take advantage of post-holiday vacation deals swarmed to travel-related sites in January. The Hotels/Resorts category experienced a 29-percent boost in visitation, led by Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Online with 6 million visitors (a 44-percent increase versus December) and Hotels.com with 5.2 million visitors (up 52 percent). Visitation to Travelocity grew 55 percent to 11.8 million visitors, making it the fourth-biggest gainer in January. Expedia led the Online Travel Agents category with 25.4 million visitors, up 31 percent versus December.

New Year's Resolution: Get a New Job

Many Americans resolved to reassess their career situations, as 31 percent of American Internet users visited a Career Services site in January. Leading the category was CareerBuilder LLC with 21.1 million visitors (up 51 percent), followed by Monster with 15.7 million visitors (up 23 percent), and Yahoo! HotJobs with 10.7 million visitors (up 68 percent). Training and Education sites increased 26 percent to 9.9 million visitors in January, led by the College Board Property with 2.5 million visitors (up 44 percent) and Fastweb with 1.7 million visitors (up 17 percent).

Real Estate Category Shows Seasonal Growth

January also represented a month of real estate exploration on the Web, as visitation to the category increased 28 percent versus December, reflecting seasonal increases after the New Year. Move Network led the category with 8.5 million visitors, up 44 percent versus December, followed by Yahoo! Real Estate, which increased 63 percent to 4 million visitors, and Homegain.com, which increased 50 percent to 3.9 million visitors.

Politics Captured Americans' Attention as 2008 Presidential Campaigns Kick Into Gear

Mounting speculation surrounding key players in the 2008 presidential elections fueled a 25-percent increase to political sites in January. Leading the category was Capitol Advantage, which grew 74 percent to 1.1 million visitors, followed by WorldNetDaily (up 54 percent to 478,000 visitors), and Moveon.org (up 23 percent to 430,000 visitors). In addition, strong media coverage of the 2008 presidential hopefuls drove traffic to their respective campaign Web sites. Specifically, the presumptive frontrunners for the democratic presidential nomination saw their official campaign sites finish among the category's top 15, led by Hillary Clinton with 313,000 unique visitors, followed by Barack Obama (297,000 unique visitors), and John Edwards (202,000 unique visitors).

Top 50 Properties

January saw the top eight properties remain unchanged from December, with Yahoo! Sites capturing the number one position, drawing just over 129 million unique visitors (see Table 3). Wikipedia Sites jumped four spots to enter the top ten at number nine, attracting nearly 43 million unique visitors. The New York Times Digital gained two spots to claim the number ten spot with 40.1 million unique visitors. Other big movers included AT&T, Inc., which grabbed the number 15 position (rising from number 22 in December) and Expedia Inc. which jumped 13 spots to number 18 and increased unique visitors by more than 30 percent.

Top 50 Ad Focus

In January, Advertising.com retained the number one position for the 33rd consecutive month, reaching 85 percent of the U.S. online population. Casale Media Network and MSN-Windows Live each gained one position to claim the number five and nine spots, respectively. Also within the top ten, Google moved up two positions to number seven, reaching 61 percent of Americans online. Additionally, Euroclick jumped five spots to number 17, reaching 43 percent of the U.S. online population, while ContextWeb enjoyed an increase of four spots up to number 24, reaching 30 percent.

comScore Media Metrix, a division of comScore Networks, provides industry-leading Internet audience measurement services that report 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 is a global leader in measuring the digital age. This capability is based on a massive, global cross-section of more than 2 million consumers who have given comScore 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 proprietary 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, Fox Sports, Nestle, MBNA, Universal McCann, the United States Postal Service, Merck and Expedia. For more information, please visit http://www.comscore.com/ .



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