New World Order for Web’s Top 50

Recent acquisitions produced some shuffling in Media Metrix’s Top 50 most visited Web sites for October, released Friday.

Infospace Impressions and CNET Networks Digital took the biggest leaps in the October rankings, with visitor increases over the previous month of 145 percent and 62 percent, respectively. CNET rose nine spots to a No. 9 ranking on the heels of its recent acquisition of ZDNet, while Infospace took the 10th spot after having acquired Go2Net.

“We’re definitely seeing that mergers and acquisitions are serving to drive traffic numbers upwards and reposition companies among the Top 50,” Media Metrix measurement analyst Anne Rickert told the E-Commerce Times.

America Online was the most visited site with 61.5 million unique visitors, followed by Yahoo!, Microsoft’s sites, Lycos and Excite.

Other notable rankings were Amazon.com (11th place), Time Warner Online (12th), NBCi (13th) and eBay (14th).

Viral Marketing Pays Off

While the major global e-commerce players remained entrenched in the top five, several newcomers broke onto the list based largely on strong word of mouth. One such Top 50 newbie was US$1 billion sweepstakes site Grab.com, which ranked 47th with 6.2 million unique visitors.

Rickert said the success of sweepstakes and incentive sites such as Grab.com shows that consumers are willing to register their personal information in exchange for the chance to win a big jackpot.

“These sites are driving traffic simply through viral marketing and word of mouth, not through online advertising,” Rickert said. “Viral marketing techniques can be very effective if you have a limited amount of money to spend on advertising. It’s a viable way to lure eyeballs to the page.”

Rickert went on to say that these types of tactics are especially valuable for sites focusing on lighter content such as entertainment and games.

One Pickup for B2B

Although business-to-business (B2B) sites are generally thinly sliced verticals with limited potential reach, one B2B reached the Top 50 on the strength of its broader target base. Zmedia.com, which provides co-registration services to online marketers, entered the Top 50 at No. 43 with 6.5 million visitors.

According to Rickert, Zmedia’s success can in part be attributed to its recent marketing alliances with Joecartoon.com, Geocities and Talkcity.com, which helped Zmedia expand its reach to the general online marketing population.

“The Top 50 is becoming a very fluid list,” Rickert added. “Incentives, alliances and partnerships, and in some cases online advertising are driving up traffic. Different tactics are working for different kinds of sites.”

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