SOURCE: NetRatings, Inc.

May 14, 2007 10:00 ET

Pet Food Contamination Drives Concerned Consumers to the Web; U.S. Traffic to Pet Food Sites up 115 Percent in March, According to Nielsen//NetRatings

Largest Increase in Pet-Related Web Traffic Among Visitors 55+

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 14, 2007 -- Nielsen//NetRatings (NASDAQ: NTRT), a global leader in Internet media and market research, announced today that Web traffic to pet-related sites grew 115 percent in March over the previous month, from 9.1 million unique visitors to 19.5 million. Menu Foods, North America's largest pet food supplier, announced a product recall on March 16th after receiving complaints in the United States about renal failure in pets who had consumed the food. Pet owners flocked online to find out which products were affected -- fell below reporting cutoff in February, but drew a remarkable 12.8 million unique visitors in March (see Table 1).

Whereas Menu Foods was virtually unknown to pet food consumers before the recall, already-trusted household brands also saw significant growth to their Web sites in March. went from below reporting cutoff in February to 2.4 million unique visitors in March, and Purina grew 30 percent from a unique audience of 1.5 million to 2.0 million. Traffic to pet information and retail sites also experienced strong growth.

"Consumers have come to rely on company Web sites to provide them with up-to-date information on their products and services, especially in urgent situations," said Michael Pond, media analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "From Jet Blue's 'Passenger Bill of Rights' to 'Iams Promise,' businesses are leveraging their online presence to communicate directly with customers and re-establish trust after a crisis. This is especially important for companies that rely on brand recognition and brand loyalty; for them, engaging consumers in an online conversation is a critical step in recovering from a serious misstep."

Table 1: Top 10 Pet-Related Web Sites for March 2007 (U.S., Home and Work)

Site              Feb-07 Unique     Mar-07 Unique     Percent
                  Audience (000)    Audience (000)    Growth
Pet Food Roll-Up          9,077            19,539        115%               N/A            12,838         N/A             2,654             2,911         10%
IAMS                        N/A             2,376         N/A
PetSmart                  1,948             2,368         22%
Purina                    1,548             2,013         30%                   911             1,206         32%            895             1,154         29%             878             1,140         30%                   1,077             1,121          4%
Next Day Pets               768               838          9%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings Custom Analysis, May 2007
Seniors' Online Behavior Most Affected by March Pet Food Recall

Among demographic groups, visitors age 55 and older saw the largest increase in unique audience composition percent among pet-related Web sites, growing 5.3 percentage points from 20.7 percent of the audience roll-up in February to 26.0 percent in March. Seniors who otherwise might not have visited pet-related Web sites were motivated to go online to find out the latest recall information. Increases in audience composition were also seen among middleclass households with an income between $50,000-$75,000 and among men; these groups grew 3.7 and 3.6 percentage points in March, respectively.

Pet Food Search Terms

"Pet food recall" was the most popular pet food search term with 1.4 million search queries in March; it was the 75th most popular search term overall (see Table 2). "Dog food recall" and "Menu Foods" were the second and third most popular pet food search terms, with 1.2 million and 485,000 search queries, respectively. Total pet food-related search queries for the month (among the top 5,000 search terms) totaled 4.9 million.

"Nearly five million search queries related to the pet food recall demonstrate how heavily consumers rely on search providers for gathering critical information," said Pond. "In addition to providing easily accessible content on their own Web sites, companies who want to communicate with their customers during a crisis should also consider buying relevant key words to drive traffic to the right place."

Table 2: Top Pet Food Search Terms for March 2007 (U.S.)

Search Term                  Searches (000)
pet food recall                      1,386
dog food recall                      1,182
menu foods                             485               319                          291
cat food recall                        284                   207
purina                                 197
dog food                               167                      162
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings MegaView Search Custom Analysis, May 2007

Nielsen//NetRatings reports April 2007 data for the Top Sites by Parent Company and Top Brands. In addition, Nielsen//NetRatings reveals the Top Advertisers by Company for April 2007.

Nielsen//NetRatings Top 10 Web Sites by Parent Company and
Top 10 Web Sites by Brand, April 2007

Table 1. Top 10 Parent Companies,        Table 2. Top 10 Brands,
Combined Home & Work                     Combined Home & Work

Parent              Unique   Time Per    Brand         Unique   Time Per
                    Audience Person                    Audience Person
                    (000)    (hh:mm:ss)                (000)    (hh:mm:ss)

1.  Microsoft       118,451  2:02:21     1.  Google    110,805  1:07:55
2.  Google          115,887  1:26:11     2.  Yahoo!    106,701  3:04:39
3.  Yahoo!          107,539  3:03:59     3.  Microsoft  96,579  0:41:10
4.  Time Warner     103,737  4:17:24     4.  MSN/Windows
                                             Live       94,766  1:50:52
5.  News Corp.       73,590  1:50:39     5.  AOL Media
    Online                                   Network    93,506  4:27:12
6.  eBay             68,588  1:47:57     6.  Fox
                                             Media      65,289  1:57:41
7.  InterActiveCorp  59,417  0:27:05     7.  eBay       61,764  1:47:35
8.  Amazon           48,035  0:25:14     8.  YouTube    46,436  0:42:40
9.  Wikimedia        46,117  0:15:42     9.  Wikipedia  45,934  0:15:40
10. Landmark                             10. Apple      44,031  1:06:52
    Communications   45,025  0:45:31
Example: The data indicates that 45.0 million home and work Internet users visited at least one of the Landmark Communications-owned sites or launched a Landmark Communications-owned application during the month, and each person spent, on average, a total of 45 minutes and 31 seconds at one or more of their sites or applications.

A parent company is defined as a consolidation of multiple domains and URLs owned by a single entity. A brand is defined as a consolidation of multiple domains and URLs that has a consistent collection of branded content.

Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance Top 10 Advertisers, April 2007

Top advertisers, ranked by estimated spending, are based on data from AdRelevance, Nielsen//NetRatings' advertising research service. An impression is counted as the number of times an ad is rendered for viewing.

Top 10 Advertisers by Estimated Spending

Advertiser                    Total Estimated    Impressions
                                     Spending           (000)
1.  Experian Group Limited        $70,308,100     28,532,734
2.  InterActiveCorp               $60,688,000     17,903,403
3.  NexTag, Inc.                  $58,981,300     29,159,834
4.  Low Rate Source               $33,374,100     15,266,721
5.  Netflix, Inc.                 $24,826,000      5,384,642
6.  Verizon Communications, Inc.  $19,308,000      4,181,594
7.  Countrywide Financial
    Corporation                   $18,319,300      9,001,475
8.  AT&T Corp.                    $15,896,400      4,144,470
9.  Monster Worldwide, Inc.       $12,523,200      3,104,502
10. Ford Motor Company            $12,445,500      2,061,840
Estimated spending reflects CPM-based advertising online, and excludes search-based advertising, paid fee services, performance-based campaigns, sponsorships, barters, partnership advertising, advertorials, promotions and e-mail. Impressions reported exclude house ads, which are ads that run on an advertiser's own or related property and co-branding relationships.

Example: An estimated 2.1 billion Ford Motor Company ads were rendered for viewing at the cost of approximately $12.4 million during the surfing period.

About Nielsen//NetRatings

NetRatings, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTRT) delivers leading Internet media and market research solutions, marketed globally under the Nielsen//NetRatings brand. With high quality, technology-driven products and services, Nielsen//NetRatings is the global standard for Internet audience measurement and premier source for online advertising intelligence, enabling clients to make informed business decisions regarding their Internet and digital strategies. The Nielsen//NetRatings portfolio includes panel-based and site-centric Internet audience measurement services, online advertising intelligence, user lifestyle and demographic data, e-commerce and transaction metrics, and custom data, research and analysis. For more information, please visit

Editor's Note: Please source all data to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Contact Information

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    Suzy Bausch
    (408) 941-2965