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Think Big. Move Fast.

March’s Comscore numbers just came out. I took a look at the top 2000 web domains, but this time I ranked them by number of visits per month. The results were a little surprising. Here are the 41 sites that were visited 10 times or more on average by US internet users in the month of March 2007:

Most frequently visited websites

Let’s peel back the onion a little, and look at these websites by category. Twenty one of the websites – more than half, fall into the category of homepage.

Frequently visited websites by category

Many of these are ISP websites (e.g. Adelphia.com, Optonline.net, Compuserve.com, Peoplepc.com etc), with the balance being portals and search engines (aol.com, yahoo.com, live.com, google.com, etc). One anomaly jumps out – officialsearchlist.org. It turns out that Officalsearchlist.org has around 600k users and they looked at only 16m pageviews from their 9m visits to the site, spending on average 30 seconds. This suggests a relatively low level of engagement. It may be that some of the users of this site have had their homepage reset to officialsearchlist.org and don’t know how to change it. The site has a large section of myspace layouts and it is possible that some less experienced users changed their homepage while getting a myspace layout.

The high proportion of homepages in the list of most frequently visited sites emphasizes the power of the default, which I have posted on before in a slightly different context. Inertia is a powerful force, not to be underestimated. Capturing the first page that a user sees when they start their browser can drive a lot of usage.

The next category on the list is gaming, with four sites; World Of Warcraft, Pogo, Webkinz and Runescape. I’m sure most readers will be familiar with WoW, Pogo and Runescape. Webkinz is a very interesting offline toy – online game hybrid launched by Ganz in late 2005. Ganz has been making plush toys for years, but with Webkinz they gave each toy a unique secret code that allows kids to take care of their pet/toy online and play games with it. It has gone from nothing to over 4m UU/mth since then. Webkinz is part of a very interesting trend towards offline-online hybrid services that I will explore more in a later post.

The Warez/Download category also has four sites on the list. Overall traffic levels for these sites are all sub one million (versus the gaming sites which were all in excess of 4 million with the exception of WoW at 1.7m). It’s not a surprise that people like to get free music and movies.

Communications and Social Networking sites have three representatives on the list (Myspace, Facebook and Hotmail). They are all huge – between 20-60m UU/mth and between 6-43 billion PV/mth. Communications/webmail are also a major driver of portal site traffic. The three count likely under-represents the importance of communication as a driver for frequent visitation of online websites.

The “Other” category is a bit of a hodgepodge, with each site worth looking at individually. I’m not sure that any lessons can be drawn from them as a whole:

    ALURIASOFTWARE.COM. Anti-spyware software – likely updating spyware signatures at each log-in.
    DRUDGEREPORT.COM. Often controversial news site – devotees may be bigger news junkies than followers of other news sites?
    CHRYSLER.COM. Chrysler said that it intended to spend over $1bn in online advertising in the second half of 2006. Perhaps its paying off? Although GM.com wasn’t far behind at 9.8 visits/month, other Auto OEMs like Toyota and Ford had just 2 visits/month.
    WHATISMYIP.COM. Tells you your IP address. Can’t explain why this gets so much usage.
    CLEMSON.EDU. Clemson University’s website. This may be set as the homepage for Clemson university students?
    ADP.COM. ADP provides HR services such as payroll, 401k, and benefits administration. It also offers time and labor management on a SaaS basis – perhaps some workers need to clock their hours on ADP’s website to make sure that they get paid accurately?
    TDAMERITRADE.COM. Are they the online broker of choice for active traders? Schwab and eTrade average just over 5 visits per month.
    PLENTYOFFISH.COM. Free personals website. This rate of visitation is significantly higher than that of paid dating sites such as Match.com. Perhaps free is good, just as with the Warez sites. Oddly though, the other free personals website, okcupid, does not see the same high visitation rates that Plenty of fish does.

    Am I missing a connection with some of these sites in the “Other” category? Some plausible explanations in comments – add your thoughts!