May 12, 2009

comScore, Inc. released a quarterly review of the U. S. prepaid wireless industry based on online visitation and search referral activity to six leading prepaid wireless sites: VirginMobileUSA.com, TracFone.com (América Móvil), MetroPCS.com, MyCricket.com (Leap Wireless), BoostMobile.com and Net10.com (América Móvil). The study showed strong gains in online activity as consumers increasingly turn to cost-effective wireless service alternatives during the economic downturn. The combined visitation to these sites grew 37 percent versus year ago to nearly 8 million visitors, representing more than 4 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience.

Growth in the category was driven primarily by MyCricket.com (up 107 percent) and Boostmobile.com (up 105 percent), both of which more than doubled in visitation versus year ago. MetroPCS.com and Net10.com also experienced strong gains, growing 63 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

Prepaid Wireless Sites Attract Significant Visitation among 35+ Age Segment

Although the marketing messages of most prepaid wireless providers target the youth market, prepaid wireless site visitation data suggest considerable interest in the plans among 35-64 year olds. In fact, the majority of visitors to Net10.com (60.3 percent) and TracFone.com (58.7 percent) were from this older age segment. Even for sites where the majority of visitors were under 35 years of age, such as Boostmobile.com and MetroPCS.com, 35- 64 year olds still comprised at least 40 percent of visitors to the site. While it is likely that some of this older skew can be attributed to parents purchasing phones on behalf of their children, the data nevertheless underscore the appeal of prepaid wireless beyond the youth market.

Organic Search Click Growth Outpaces Paid Clicks to Prepaid Wireless Sites

In order to understand the marketing factors driving traffic to prepaid wireless sites, comScore also conducted an analysis of search referral activity. The results showed that while both paid and organic search are driving increased referral activity, organic search is substantially outpacing paid search referrals on the whole. This dynamic suggests that the underlying consumer demand for prepaid wireless services is not just being driven by paid search marketing expenditures.

A few of the sites performed particularly well in obtaining growth from organic search referrals compared to paid search referrals. Organic clicks to BoostMobile.com grew 310 percent, while paid clicks grew 119 percent; organic clicks to MyCricket.com grew 123 percent compared to 63 percent growth in paid clicks; and organic clicks to MetroPCS.com grew 148 percent compared to 17 percent growth in paid clicks.

For more information at http://www.comscore.com

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