Americans Go Online for Taxes, Love in Feb.

March 24, 2011

comscore-top-gaining-categories-feb-11-mar-2011.JPGThe top two online site categories for US internet users in February 2011 were taxes and flowers/gifts/greetings, according to [pdf] new Media Metrix data from comScore. Likely spurred by Valentine’s Day (along with flowers/gifts/greetings), e-cards also made a strong fourth-place showing, following automotive manufacturers.

Web Makes Filing Less Taxing

More Americans turned to tax sites in February for help in preparing to file. The category attracted 33.1 million visitors, up 24% from January 2011 to rank as the top gaining category for the month. Each year, comScore analysis finds that online tax filing typically grows each month from the beginning of the year through the April filing deadline.

Cupid Goes Online

The Valentine’s Day holiday sent many Americans online to order flowers and gifts for loved ones. The flowers/gifts/greetings category drew more than 30 million Americans in February 2011, up 18% from the prior month. AmericanGreetings Property ranked among the top gaining properties with 8.1 million unique visitors (up 13%), while ProFlowers.com surged 380% to 5.2 million visitors. Gifts.com came in third with 4.3 million visitors, followed by Hallmark with 2.4 million (up 165).

In addition, 1-800-Flowers.Com, Inc. came in fourth with 2.4 million (up 59%) and FTD.com with 2 million (up 183%).

Visitation to e-card sites grew 10% month-over-month to 19.2 million unique visitors in February. MyFunCards.com took the top spot in the category with 4.8 million visitors (up 32%), followed by AG Interactive with 4 million visitors (up 31%). Evite.com attracted 3.7 million visitors, while 123Greetings.com jumped 29% to 2.4 million visitors.

Super Bowl Ads Drive Growth at Auto Sites

Americans also flooded auto manufacturer sites in February 2011, which comScore attributes to several high-profile car commercials that aired during this year’s Super Bowl. More than 25 million people visited the category during the month (up 11% from January 2011), with General Motors taking the top spot with 5 million visitors.

Following GM, Toyota drew 4.7 million visitors, followed by Ford Motor Company with 4.6 million visitors (up 14%), Honda with 3.8 million visitors (up 14%) and Chrysler LLC with 3.5 million visitors (up 59%). Subaru also saw sizeable gains during the month, which comScore says was a result of their sponsorship of Animal Planet’s annual “Puppy Bowl”, growing 469% to 2.2 million unique visitors.

Expedia, Twitter Crack Top 50 Properties

comscore-top-50-properties-feb-11-mar-2011.JPGYahoo sites ranked as the #1 web property in February with 177.5 million visitors, followed by Google sites with 175.2 million and Microsoft sites with 168.8 million. Sites new to the top 50 in February included Expedia Inc (#43), The Washington Post Company (#48) and Twitter.com (#49).

Google Ad Network Has Highest Reach

comscore-adfocus-feb-11-mar-2011.JPGGoogle Ad Network led the February Ad Focus ranking with a reach of 92.3% of Americans online, followed by AOL Advertising (84.6% reach), Yahoo sites (84.6%) and Yahoo Network Plus (84.1%).

Tax, Travel Sites Dominate Jan. ’11

Tax sites also experienced a strong surge of US activity in January 2011 as tax prep season officially commenced, according to previous comScore Media Metrix data. The category attracted 26.8 million visitors in January 2011, representing a 345% increase from December 2010. Tax category site leaders such as TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxACT all achieved triple-digit gains during the month.

In addition, several travel subcategories saw a month-over-month spike in activity during January 2011, including transactions, ground/cruise, online travel agents and travel information. The overall category drew 114.6 million Americans, representing the category’s highest reach recorded by comScore at 54%.

Yahoo sites also ranked as the #1 property in January with 178.9 million visitors, followed by Google sites with 178.5 million and Microsoft sites with 176.8 million.

Google Ad Network led the January 2011 Ad Focus ranking with a reach of 93.1% of Americans online, followed by Yahoo Network Plus with an 85.5% reach, AOL Advertising with 85% and Yahoo Sites with 84.5%.

Facebook.com crossed into the top 10 for the first time in January 2011 with a 72.3% reach.

Top 2011 Categories See Changes from Prior Year

Taxes also represented the top-growing site category in February 2010, according to comScore Media Metrix data. The category drew about 32 million visitors, meaning year-over-year the unique audience grew roughly 3%. E-cards also ranked fourth in February 2010 with 23.1 million unique visitors, meaning its audience shrank almost 17%. Flowers/greeting/gifts ranked fifth in February 2010 with almost 32.3 million unique visitors, resulting in year-over-year decline of roughly 6%.

Automotive sites drew 24.5 million visitors in February 2010, meaning that audience grew almost 5% year-over-year.

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