Hey, Big Spender!

In the brick-and-mortar world, it really doesn’t matter how many people window- shop your wares. Nor does it matter how many people come inside the store, mill around and comment on the merchandise. The key question asked by CEOs and advertisers alike will always be, “Did anyone actually buy anything?”

This old lesson is now being felt in new buying circles, namely on the Internet. According to a study by DoubleClick research division, Diameter, New York, and Reston, Va.-based comScore Networks, being a rich, highly publicized, highly trafficked Web site doesn’t necessarily mean you are automatically insured of attracting the biggest e-spenders. In fact, everybody’s favorite media behemoth, AOL, rates behind sites such as altavista.com, excite.com and nbci.com when it comes to attracting the biggest online spenders in the portals category. (Of course, chances are when your monthly unique visitor numbers reach 61.5 million, as AOL’s did for May 2001, you may not care what this or that user spends when he/she gets to your site–there is so much spending to go around.)

Sites that attract the biggest spenders are, not surprisingly, those belonging to travel companies. However, the travel site with the highest number of unique visitors for May 2001–Southwest.com, with close to 4 million visitors–only ranked sixth in visitors with the most impressive purchase rates. Hertz.com led all travel sites in user-buying power even though it weighed in with less than 1.2 million unique visitors for May.

–The Detroit News’ Web page led all news sites with the highest Buying Power Index (BPI)*. 1,090,000 users visited detnews.com in May 2001, and the site delivered a 367 BPI figure. The Wall Street Journal’s site was second with a BPI figure of 353. Dallasnews.com was third at 286. The most traffic went to washingtonpost.com (3,542,000 unique visitors for May), but the site was fourth in BPI with a 272 figure.

–Staples.com led all shopping sites with a 770 BPI figure, though bizrate.com (748 BPI) had more than 5 times as many unique visitors.

*The BPI Index measures the total dollars spent online by the average member of a site’s audience. For example, a BPI of 100 represents the baseline index, so a BPI of 200 would mean the average visitor to that site spends twice as much online as the average Internet user. All figures are for May 2001.