Travel site categories accounted for 5 of the 10 top-gaining web categories by percentage change in March 2012, including Transactions sites, which grew 12% month-over-month to 3.8 million visitors, according to [download page] comScore Media Metrix data. Information sites drew 69.7 million visitors during the month (up 10%), while airline sites attracted 29.8 million, representing an 8% increase. Car rental sites reached almost 7.3 million visitors during the month (up 7%), while hotels and resorts sites saw audience growth of 6%, to 35.1 million.
TripAdvisor Media Group ranked as the category leader among travel information sites with 18.1 million visitors, a 10% month-over-month increase. Travora Media came in second with 15.5 million visitors (up 5%), followed by Yahoo! Travel with 11.1 million visitors (up 9%).
Within the airlines category, Southwest Airlines led with 10.9 million visitors, up 17%. Delta Airlines ranked second with 6.1 million visitors (up 17%), followed by United Airlines with 5.4 million (up 61%), American Airlines with 4.8 million (up 8%), JetBlue Airways with 3.3 million (up 1%, and US Airways, with 2.6 million (up 8%).
Consumers Lured by Lotto
Drawn in part by the Mega Millions jackpot, almost 29 million Americans visited Lotto sites in March, up 25% to rank as the top-gaining category for the month. MegaMillions took top billing with 6.4 million, up a dramatic 590% compared to a month earlier, to reach its all-time audience high. CALottery.com was next with 3.2 million visitors (up 101%), followed by EPrize.net with 2.6 million, SwagBucks.com with 2.6 million (up 10%), LotteryPost.com with 1.5 million (up 62%), and PowerBall.com with 1.5 million.
Apple Into Top 10; Instagram Grows Quickly
Google Sites ranked as the #1 property in March with almost 189.7 million visitors, up from 186.6 million in February. Microsoft remained in the second spot with 178.9 million visitors, up 2.6% from 174.4 million, ahead of Yahoo, which rose 1% to nearly 175.4 million. Facebook retained its fourth ranking with 158.9 million, and AOL kept its hold on the fifth spot with 109.9 million visitors. Apple cracked the top 10 with more than 81 million visitors, up 3.1% from a month earlier, displacing Turner Digital, which otherwise had a glowing month in terms of its video audience.
Meanwhile, Instagr.am ranked 9th in terms of the top-gaining web properties by percentage change, growing 19% to 8.2 million visitors. Sports sites also fared well, with MLB visitors rising by 24%, SB Nation visitors by 20%, and ESPN visitors by 19%. The rankings are based on the top 250 properties in March 2012, which explains the exclusion of the lottery sites.
The top 10 brand movers in March according to Compete can be found here.
Top 5 Ad Focus Rankings Shift
Google Ad Network led the March Ad Focus ranking with a reach of 91.7% of Americans online, down slightly from its leading 92.6% reach in February. AOL Advertising (83.1%) followed in second place again, but fell from 84% reach in February. Google jumped into the third spot with 81.7% reach, up from 81.3%, overtaking Yahoo! Network Plus, which fell from 83.1% to 81.4% reach, and AT&T AdWorks, which dropped from 82.1% to 81.1% reach.