Job Search, Coupons, Politics and Classifieds Led Digital Site Growth in 2008

According to the comScore 2008 Digital Year in Review Report, the job search category ranked as the top-gaining site category for the year, up 51% to nearly 19 million visitors in December 2008, as the millions of Americans affected by the deteriorating job market sought online job resources for assistance. Other top-gaining categories in the report included coupons, up 46% to 31.6 million visitors, politics, up 43% to 12 million visitors, and classifieds, up 27% to nearly 53 million visitors.The study shows that U.S. Internet users viewed a total of 4.5 trillion display ads (not including video) during the past twelve months, with the average person viewing more than 2,000 ads per month. Despite the staggering total volume, the number has declined somewhat over the course of 2008. This, though, is believed to reflect a shift in strategy among some display ad publishers to reconfigure their advertising inventory to reduce ad clutter in order to drive up CPMs, while some advertisers are shifting from static and rich display ads to using video ads.

The list of top display advertisers continued to be dominated by phone service providers. In November 2008, AT&T was the top advertiser while Sprint Nextel, Vonage, and Verizon made the top ten list. On the publisher side, Yahoo! sites served the most display ads in November, followed by Fox Interactive Media, and AOL LLC with 18.2 billion. 

Top Ten U.S. Online Display Advertisers November 2008


Total Display Ad Views (MM)

AT&T, Inc.


Microsoft Sites


Apollo Group, Inc.


Sprint Nextel


United Online, Inc


Experian Interactive


Vonage Holdings Corp


Verizon Communications



Bank of America


Source: comScore Ad Metrix (U.S.)


Top Ten U.S. Online Display Publishers November 2008


Total Display Ad Views (MM)

Yahoo! Sites


Fox Interactive Media





Microsoft Sites


Google Sites




Viacom Digital


Glam Media


United Online, Inc


Source: comScore Ad Metrix (U.S.)

Total U.S. e-commerce spending reached $214.4 billion in 2008, a 7%  increase versus the previous year. Travel e-commerce spending grew 9% to $84.3 billion, while retail (non-travel) e-commerce spending grew 6%  to $130.1 billion.  2008 ranked as the softest year for retail ecommerce spending growth since comScore began tracking it in 2001. January showed the first signs, as growth rates declined to 12 percent after growing at a 20-percent rate in 2007.   

Growth rates reached a peak in April at 15 percent, followed by eight successive month of declining growth rates in the remainder of the year. The holiday shopping months of November and December saw negative growth rates, representing the first months on record to have lower online sales than the same month the prior year. 

U.S. Retail E-Commerce Growth Trend


Y/Y Growth Rate

























Source: comScore inc, January 2009 (November and December growth rates based on corresponding shopping days relative to Thanksgiving, not calendar days)

The fastest-growing retail category in 2008 was Video Games, Consoles & Accessories which continued to benefit from online sales of popular game consoles. Other fast-growing categories included Home, Garden & Furniture and Sport & Fitness, both of which benefitted from an increasing consumer willingness to complete high-ticket purchases online. 

Fastest Growing U.S. Retail Categories in 2008

Retail Category

Year to Year % Change

Video Games, Consoles & Accessories


Home, Garden & Furniture


Sport & Fitness


Event Tickets


Consumer Electronics


Apparel & Accessories


Computer Hardware


Toys & Hobbies


Books & Magazines


Flowers, Greetings & Gifts


Office Supplies


Jewelry & Watches


Computer Software (excl. PC Games)


Music, Movies & Video


Source: comScore inc, January 2009

Online activity in 2008 largely reflected the biggest news events of the year, including the economic crisis and the U.S. presidential election. Job Search ranked as the top-gaining site category for 2008, growing 51% to nearly 19 million visitors in December, as Americans turned to the Internet to seek new career opportunities after significant job losses were incurred during the second half of the year. Category leader, Job Search, jumped 78% to 9.1 million visitors.

As signs of an economic recession continued, consumers became increasingly cost-conscious and sought ways online to curb their spending.

  • Coupon sites witnessed a 46% increase during the year, reaching more than 31.5 million Americans in December
  • Classifieds also saw a sharp increase in traffic, growing 27% to 52.8 million visitors, as Americans attempted to benefit through the purchase and sale of used items
  • Craigslist grew 51% during the year

The Politics category was one of the fastest growing categories in 2008, up 43% to nearly 12 million visitors. Both candidate sites peaked in October, with reaching 8.5 million visitors and with 3.8 million visitors.

Top-Gaining U.S. Site Categories Dec-08 Total Unique Visitors


% Change in 2008



Online Gaming






Online Gambling










Job Search


Source: comScore Media Metrix (U.S.) January 2009

According to the study, the U.S. Internet population grew 4% in 2008 to 190.7 million visitors in December. Google Sites captured the top U.S. property ranking in April and reigned in that position for the balance of the year. For the year, Google Sites grew 12% to 149 million visitors.

The top growing properties in 2008 (based on the top 100 properties in December 2008) increased the size of their online audiences through acquisitions/partnerships, organic growth, or a combination of the two.

Other properties grew their audiences more organically. continued its strong momentum by growing its visitor base 57% to 54.6 million visitors, while Wordpress, the largest blog publishing platform, surged 64% to 24.2 million visitors. The Firefox Internet browser showed a 40%  increase for the Mozilla Organization.

Please visit here to download free PDF file of the complete comScore Digital Year In Review report.

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1 comment about "Job Search, Coupons, Politics and Classifieds Led Digital Site Growth in 2008".
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  1. Larry Grimes from WB Grimes & Company, February 20, 2009 at 8:52 a.m.

    Baloney!!! 2,000 ads viewed per month per person on line?? Better yet, 2,000 ads exposed to, while on-line, per month. Does anyone really know anyone who actually clicks on ads or even reads them in any depth on line. Online advertising remains more hype than results. When is the advertising community going to wake up.