Big Domain or Big Homepage? Homepage Visitors at the Top Publisher Sites

Yahoo!, MSN and AOL are the top ranking portals on the web — but how do their homepages stack up? With several hundred thousand dollars a day paid for some homepage ads, a lot of money is at stake. Compete ran the numbers on visitors to top publisher homepages and compared them to visitors to any page on the publisher’s domain. What we found may surprise you.

At the top of the list are some familiar faces. Google and Yahoo! have the most domain and homepage visitors on the web. But did you know that 22 million more people visited Google’s homepage than Yahoo!’s in March? Kind of surprising considering that Yahoo!’s homepage is a bonanza of fresh, interactive content and ads, whereas Google’s homepage is basically just a blank white screen, logo and search box.

Social media site MySpace saw the greatest jump in its ranking of homepage visitors, going from #11 in domain visitor ranking to #5 in homepage visitor ranking, with 72% of site visitors seeing the homepage. Rival Facebook tied Google for second place in the proportion of homepage-to-domain visitors at 64%.

Hompages present big opportunities for online advertising. For example, display advertising on Facebook consists mainly of small sponsored ads that blend with the rest of the content on profile and other pages within the site. It will be interesting to see if Facebook further monetizes its homepage.

Google and Yahoo! claimed a 37% combined share of homepage visitors among the top dozen sites, way more than their 27% combined share of domain visitors. Social media sites Facebook, MySpace and YouTube captured a combined 32% share of homepage visitors, but only 22% of domain visitors.

Homepage visitor traffic varies greatly at the top publishers — from 3% to over 70% of domain visitors. This type of data is critical to effective media buying. For instance, advertising on the homepages of both MSN and AOL would have reached 13% of homepage visitors at the top publishers in March, fewer than an ad on the Yahoo! homepage, which reached 16% of homepage visitors.

We’ll return to homepages in a later post to examine their demographics and quality in terms of conversion and advertising effectiveness. As only Compete data can show, not all homepages are equal in generating advertising ROI.

Categories: Search

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