Web Traffic in July: That’s Entertainment

U.S. Web traffic in July 2001 was at its lowest level since March, according to the netScore Internet Traffic Report from comScore Networks and DoubleClick’s Diameter, but entertainment Web sites held their own as the most visited category for the month.

Overall traffic from U.S. visitors, including the home, work and college/university audience segments, declined by 1.9 percent from June to July, following a 3 percent drop from May to June that was largely driven by a seasonal usage decline in the college/university segment, according to the netScore report. The U.S. Work segment, which represents more than 52 million visitors and almost 42 percent of all U.S. online users in July — has clearly as a large component of U.S. online traffic.

Worldwide Internet traffic remained stable in July, with 296.4 million visitors using the Web, from 296.5 million visitors in June, which represents the lowest level of usage in the past four months. However, netScore found that traffic from non-U.S. visitors increased by 1.2 percent from June to July, reflecting the continued development of the Internet on a worldwide basis.

“U.S. Internet traffic seems to have slowed over the past few months in terms of growth in unique users, although there are still pockets of growth occurring at specific sites and within certain audience segments,” said Gian Fulgoni, Chairman of comScore. “As overall growth in the number of unique U.S. Internet users slows however, companies will need to develop a deeper level of understanding of the behavior of online consumers if they are to successfully exploit the many opportunities that exist to leverage the use of the Internet as a marketing medium.”

But the entertainment category managed to capture its share of visitors despite the decrease in traffic. More than 72 percent of Web users visited an entertainment site in July, according to netScore, making entertainment the most visited category on the Internet during the month.

Even though visitor traffic has declined drastically from a high of 56 million worldwide visitors in March (and continues to evaporate on a weekly basis), Napster was still the No. 2 ranked entertainment site in July with almost 36 million worldwide visitors. Napster generated 69 percent of its July traffic, almost 25 million visitors, from outside the United States.

Summer blockbuster movies, which have become as much a part of the American summer as the Fourth of July, were responsible for quite a bit of July’s online entertainment traffic. Jurassicpark.com was the most visited movie Web site in July, netScore found, attracting more than 2.5 million worldwide visitors, while three other movie sites (for “Planet of the Apes,” “Tomb Raider” and “The Fast and Furious”) drew more than 1 million worldwide visitors each.

Data compiled by Jupiter Media Metrix found that May has actually been the peak month for visitors to all movie-entertainment sites, with nearly 21 million people visiting at least one site in the category that month.

Among the top 20 grossing films between January and July 2001, Jupiter Media Metrix found that “Pearl Harbor,” the most trafficked film site in its peak month. It was the third highest grossing film of the year. “The Mummy Returns” followed in traffic for its peak month and was the second highest grossing film.

Among the top 20 grossing films, the sites with the greatest number of visitors during their opening week were: “The Mummy Returns” with 475,000 unique visitors; “Jurassic Park III” with 346,000; “Planet of the Apes” with 290,000 unique visitors; and “Pearl Harbor” with 267,000 unique visitors.

The audience demographics of sites during their peak month of traffic reflect the content and themes of the films, according to Jupiter Media Metrix. Sites with the greatest composition of persons age two to 17 were: “Spy Kids”; “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”; and “Fast and The Furious.” Sites with the highest composition of men were: “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”; “Pearl Harbor”; “The Mummy Returns”; and “A.I: Artificial Intelligence.” Women visited the widest range of film sites, including those for both children and suspense films. Movie sites with the highest composition of women were: “Spy Kids”; “Hannibal”; and “Shrek.”

Movie studios not only used Web sites to promote their films, but used the Web advertising to draw interest as well. The most heavily promoted films online this year were a mix of big blockbusters and small independent films. “Pearl Harbor” and “The Mummy Returns,” both among the top grossing and most trafficked film sites, were also the No. 1 and No. 2 most advertised films online with 434.8 million and 157.0 million impressions, respectively, between January and June 2001.

“Despite paltry investment in the space, studios are successfully marketing films — especially summer event films — to a disproportionately large audience online,” said Mark Mooradian, vice president and senior analyst, Jupiter Media Metrix. “But the challenge of online film marketing has shifted from creative to managing the balance of advertising and other methods of building awareness of those sites.”

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