The US presidential election, Halloween and the approaching holiday season were the most significant drivers of Internet traffic for October 2008, according to comScore’s monthly analysis of US consumer activity at the top online properties.
Politics Category Tops List of Fastest-Growing
October saw a significant surge in traffic to the politics category, as Americans tuned in closely to the presidential and local congressional races. The category grew 40% to 28 million visitors in October, making it the fastest growing category for the month.
BarackObama.com was the most visited site in the category, with 8.5 million visitors – up 59% vs. September, followed by JohnMcCain.com with 3.8 million visitors (up 29%). October marked the largest audiences of the season for both of the candidates.
Other sites generating substantially higher traffic in the month included CatholicVote.com (up 410% to 1.5 million visitors), GOP.com (up 111% to 1.2 million visitors), and Factcheck.org (up 96% to 1 million visitors).
Voting advocacy sites VoteforChange (up 62% to 2.4 million visitors) and RocktheVote.com (up 46% to 1.1 million visitors) also saw strong gains.
Saturday Night Live’s election comedy sketches, including Tina Fey’s popular impersonation of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, helped NBC Universal rank as one of the top 10 gaining properties for the month. NBC Universal’s online channel for Saturday Night Live (SNL) content surged 85% to 4.4 million visitors in October.
“The historic presidential race had millions of Americans glued to their computers for the latest news during the final stretch of the campaign,” said Jack Flanagan, EVP of comScore Media Metrix. “Prospective voters were able to get up-to-the minute information on candidates, important issues and the latest poll results as they prepared to check off the box in the voting booth on November 4.”
Halloween and Approaching Holidays Boost Retail-Category Traffic
The combination of Halloween and the upcoming holiday shopping season resulted in strong traffic increases to several retail categories in October.
Retail apparel sites grew 13% to more than 67 million visitors? as people searched for Halloween costumes, early holiday deals and the latest seasonal apparel in October. The category was led by BuyCostumes.com, which saw a 107% increase to 9.5 million visitors. Several other costume-related sites also experienced gains in October, including CostumeSuperCenter.com (up 110% to 2.6 million visitors) and Costumzee.com (up 161% to 2.1 million visitors).
In addition to costume retailers, several other apparel retailers experienced strong traffic growth during the month, including shoe retailer Zappos.com (up 18% to 5.1 million visitors), Gap Online (up 24% to 4.2 million visitors) and AE.com (up 18% to 3.3 million visitors).
With the holidays quickly approaching, traffic to the retail toys category surged 17% to more than 25 million visitors as Americans searched early for this year’s top toys.
ToysRus sites led the category with 9.3 million visitors, a gain of 28%, followed by Barbie with 3.4 million visitors (up 10%) and The LEGO Group with 2.7 million visitors (up 22%). Several other popular toy brands also experienced double-digit growth in October, including AmericanGirl.com (up 51%), Fisher Price (up 43%) and LeapFrog.com (up 90%).
Top 50 Properties
Google Sites continued to lead as the most visited property in October with 147 million visitors, followed by Yahoo sites with 144.9 million visitors, and Microsoft Sites with 123.5 million visitors. All of the top-ten properties maintained their positions from September.
New arrivals to the Top 50 ranking this month included NBC Universal, which entered at position #33 with nearly 25 million visitors, and JPMorgan Chase Property, which rose to position #41 with its acquisition of Washington Mutual, bringing the property’s combined audience to more than 23 million visitors.
Top 50 Ad Focus Ranking
Platform-A led the October Ad Focus ranking, reaching 91% of the 190.6 million Americans online. Yahoo Network followed, reaching 86%. Google Ad Network captured the third position, reaching 83% of Americans online. ValueClick Networks moved up one position to #4, reaching 82% of online users, and Traffic Marketplace rose one position to #8 reaching 74%, comScore said.
About the research: comScore Media Metrix provides internet audience measurement services that report details of online media usage, visitor demographics and online buying power for home, work and university audiences across local US markets and worldwide. comScore Media Metrix syndicated ratings are based on industry-sanctioned sampling methodologies.