US sites dwarf UK destinations

US-owned Websites continue to have a stranglehold over the top rankings of the UK’s most popular online destinations, according to data from MMXI Europe, a joint venture between US online audience research company Media Metrix and other European market research groups.

Yahoo! led the pack, with just over 38 per cent of UK Web users visiting the site each month, ahead of the UK’s leading Internet service provider, Freeserve, which attracted 34.7 per cent of UK users.

Despite the strength of Yahoo!’s UK-derived content, more detailed data shows that UK surfers are more likely to visit the search engine’s US-based domain Yahoo.com than Yahoo.co.uk.

Other US-owned or US-led co-ventures in the UK, such as MSN, GeoCities, AOL and Excite, dominate MMXI’s debut rankings. Only Demon, with a 20 per cent reach, and the BBC, join Freeserve to complete a truly British trio in the top ten.

The relatively modest popularity of the BBC across all its Websites, which at 14.5 per cent ranked lower than book retailer Amazon, contrasts with its current ranking as the UK’s biggest online publisher in terms of total volume of page impressions across its sites.

UKplus.co.uk, the UK-focused Web directory owned by Associated New Media, also performed well. Although it lagged behind Yahoo.com as a popular search destination for UK surfers, it eased ahead of Yahoo.co.uk in terms of monthly reach in a ranking of individual Web addresses operated on top Web publishers.

The launch of regular MMXI research data in Europe is likely to be welcomed by online media planners and buyers, which to date have had to rely on reports of total page impressions and monthly visitor figures, supplied, sometimes audited, by site operators themselves.

As it is sometimes impossible to distinguish between new and repeat visitors to a site each month with this data, it is hard to analyse the true reach of sites with the UK online population.

In the US, Media Metrix’s monthly tracking of Website reach has become a key factor in determining the placement of online budgets. US sites which rank high in the research have been able to charge a premium for ad inventory, even when they are outperformed by lesser ranked sites in terms of total page views.

The release of UK data coincides with the release of top ranking figures for the French and German markets by MMXI.

The company is also backed by European market research companies Ipsos SA and GfK AG. The results of the surveys are based on a representative sample of users in each market. Results are calculated by metering computer use of the panel, using the same methodology which is already operated by Media Metrix in the US.

MMXI Europe BV managing director Arielle Dinard says: “We have created standard measures for the industry by implementing the identical, proven methodology in every country. This ensures that our data is accurate and comparable on a national and international basis.”

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