What goes around comes around, but portals came back faster than anyone expected.
Although Time Warner has acknowledged that it is considering the sale of AOL, the media giant is clearly reluctant to let the online division go. For good reason. As eMarketer's new Portals report shows, thanks to robust demand for online advertising, a broadband audience hungry for multimedia applications and an increasingly confident population of online shoppers, portals are hot properties again.
One look at the data should convince anyone that portals are no longer passé
Measured by sheer size of audience, Yahoo! continues to be the number one site on the Web, according to data from Nielsen//NetRatings. MSN, Google and AOL trail Yahoo! in terms of unique audience. The value of e-mail and instant messaging (IM) services can be seen in the varying levels of time per person.
The popularity of the big portals can be seen in another set of Nielsen data with a narrower time frame. During the week ended September 4, 2005, nearly half of all Internet users logged on to Yahoo! All of the Big Four portals had an active reach of more than 30% of all Internet users.
This audience build up is having impact on many other industries. For example, AOL and Yahoo! are the leading online music destinations — and AOL has partnered with iTunes and MusicNet to create a free and paid music service.
News is one of the core content areas of the Internet, and as with music (and video), portals have captured the largest audience for news among the online audience. Yahoo! and MSNBC top the list.
Search has become a cornerstone, and perhaps the cornerstone, of Web use. More than half of all users access a search site during most or every online session. Just 4% say they don't use search engines.