Study: News Sites, Pop-Ups Dominate Web in September

While news sites dominated Internet use during September, one e-commerce company used a pop-up ad campaign to propel itself into the top tier of most-visited sites for the first time, according to data released Monday by Jupiter Media Metrix (Nasdaq: JMXI).

As they searched for the latest reports regarding the September 11th terrorist attacks on the U.S. and the search for suspects that followed, 51 percent of all Web users visited a news site in September, up from 40 percent in a typical month.

“More than 50 million people visited news sites in September, helping to increase overall online usage in a month where growth is usually flat,” Jupiter vice president of media research Charles Buchwalther said.

Overall, AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL) sites as a group ranked No. 1 on Jupiter’s list with 81.1 million unique visitors. Following AOL were sites run by Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) and Terra Lycos (Nasdaq: TRLY)

More Pop-Ups

ABPharmacy.com used a pop-up ad campaign to propel itself to 33rd in Jupiter’s rankings.

Earlier this year, wireless networking firm X10.com used pop-up campaigns to propel itself to the top of Jupiter’s list, leapfrogging such online stalwarts as eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN).

However, doubt was quickly cast on the validity of the pop-up campaign when additional research showed that the vast majority of users left X10.com and other pop-up sites within seconds.

X10.com continues to use the pop-up ad method and was the fifth-busiest Web site in September, according to Jupiter’s latest figures.

Prescribed Visits

ABPharmacy runs a program that offers discounts on hearing and vision products as well as access to brick-and-mortar drug stores across the U.S.

“The majority of traffic to ABpharmacy.com was driven by pop-up ads,” Jupiter said.

According to Jupiter, the site drew 10.1 million visitors in September, making it the most-trafficked newcomer site on the top 50 list.

Buying Traffic

Two other e-commerce sites gained thanks to mergers and acquisitions. American Greetings ranked 17th with 17 million visitors in September, a 76 percent increase over August, due in large part to its acquisition of Bluemountainarts.com, Jupiter said.

Homestore.com (Nasdaq: HOMS) saw a 93 percent increase to 14.2 million visitors and a No. 21 ranking, thanks largely to its takeover of iPlace.com.

Late-Breaking News

Without a doubt, however, the quest for news and information about terrorism had the largest impact on Internet users last month, according to Jupiter.

The sites of major TV news outlets were among the biggest gainers, the study said. Traffic to CNN.com increased 141 percent, with the average user staying on the site for 33 minutes — 39 percent longer than the month before.

Time.com saw traffic jump more than 300 percent, while MSNBC.com experienced a 66 percent increase.

Other big gainers included MarketWatch.com, which grew its audience 36 percent as Web surfers watched the stock market react to the terrorism attacks, Jupiter said.

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