Study: Top Newcomer Sites in 2000 Were Viral, Promotional Marketers

A new report Thursday from Jupiter Media Metrix suggests that the newest, high-traffic sites of 2000 owe their popularity in large part to viral marketing, traffic-sharing initiatives, sweepstakes and promotions.

The report concludes that the top twenty-five new Web sites in 2000 — sites launched in 2000 and that also appeared in the Jupiter Media Metrix rankings of the 500 top-trafficked sites — drew in millions of monthly visitors thanks to viral programs. And once these visitors arrived at the sites, they were required to register, netting the sites contact information for relationship management purposes, as well as for direct marketing programs.

“While the majority of top newcomers in the Media Metrix ratings reports rely largely on viral marketing and traffic-sharing to build their online reach, they require registration to amass contact databases for direct marketing purposes,” said Patrick Keane, senior analyst at Jupiter Research.

Grab.com, an entertainment and gaming site that offers a $1 billion jackpot, was the top newcomer of the year, with 13.5 million unique visitors in December. Traffic to the site increased by 115.8 percent since its debut in March, at 6.2 million unique visitors.

Half.com was the top gainer among the top twenty-five newcomers, according to post-debut traffic growth. Ttraffic to the site grew 537.2 percent since it first appeared in March, increasing from 1.3 million to 8.2 million unique visitors per month.

Half.com was also the top advertiser among the top newcomers of 2000, purchasing an estimated 791 million impressions during the year.

Viral marketing play PassThisOn.com, which drives traffic to its site and affiliates through branded, forwarded email messages, came in third behind Grab.com and Half.com.

Despite the newcomers’ quick rise into Jupiter Media Metrix’s ratings, the sites face the same challenges of all pure-play dot-coms these days — turning their idea into cash. In addition to its direct marketing database, PassThisOn.com, for one, derives income from CPA deals with affiliates. It drives traffic to those advertisers through email newsletters whose content — jokes, games, and the like — lends itself to forwarding.

“The ongoing challenge these and future newcomers face is converting these databases and traffic into income, especially in a skeptical market with less venture capital and investor patience,” Keane said.

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