Be true to your portal

Random Web-heads become overwhelmingly loyal portal users, through the simple process of registration.


Kaitlin Quistgaard
June 3, 1999 8:00PM (UTC)

It's a no-brainer that registered users at portal sites like Yahoo are more
likely to hang around than users who don't register for
free e-mail, personalized news and other Web services. But even Net Ratings
senior Internet analyst Peggy O'Neill was surprised at what she discovered
while measuring portal loyalty: Registered users spend around three times
more time at their preferred portal than non-registered users, and visit
three to six times as many pages.

At Yahoo, registered users spent 30 percent of their Internet time within
the portal in April, compared to 9.6 percent for unregistered users. At
Netscape, registered users spent nearly 14 percent of their total surfing
time at that site, whereas non-registered users averaged only 4 percent.

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What does this mean for Web surfers? Well, we can
expect portals to become more and more inventive -- and aggressive -- in
trying to get us to register.

Registered users, in advertisers' eyes, will be seen as the
cream of the crop. If you're willing to slog through registration forms and
then spend another half an hour inputting your address book into a free
e-mail account or your stocks into an online portfolio tracker, then you're
probably living online, says O'Neill. At the very least, you're more likely
to shop online than the average Web-head. And that makes you the kind of
surfer advertisers are after.

The portal loyalty study also suggests that
people who register at one portal aren't likely to spend too much time
visiting the competition. About a third of those registered users who spent
30 percent of their time on Yahoo in April also visited MSN, Excite and Go,
but they spent less than 5 percent of their total surfing time at those
three other portals combined. In other words, registered users are also
disinclined to stray.

NetRatings says this data adds up to one important idea: Advertisers would
be wise to look further afield than page views and audience reach numbers
when they decide where to put their bucks. "Registered users and time
metrics," says the NetRatings report, "are better indicators of a site's
ability to build relationships with its user base."


Kaitlin Quistgaard

Kaitlin Quistgaard, Salon's former technology editor, writes frequently about the arts and South America, where she once lived.

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