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Kids of The Magic School Bus, Ranked

If you were a kid in the ‘90s, you probably learned at least some of your science from The Magic School Bus, an animated show for the kids not quite ready for the rigors of Bill Nye the Science Guy.

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January 18th

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ComScore: Travel Sites Grow 10% To 69.7M Uniques In March, With TripAdvisor In The Lead

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ComScore today released its analysis of this month’s top properties on ye olde Webernets in the U.S. There are a number of points of interest, but among them, it seems that lotto sites were the top beneficiary of U.S. Internet traffic. This was largely a result of the unprecedented Mega Millions jackpot, which became the largest jackpot in U.S. and world history, reaching $656 million in March. Lotto sites drew nearly 29 million visitors (with MegaMillions.com grabbing the top spot), up 25 percent from February, making it the biggest mover in March.

Travel info sites were the next biggest beneficiary of traffic, according to comScore, as Americans looked to book last-minute spring break trips and summer travel. This made travel one of the top-gainers, up 10 percent to 69.7 million visitors in March. Of the web’s growing number of travel properties, TripAdvisor saw the biggest boost, up 5 percent from the prior month, to a total of 18.1 million visitors. TripAdvisor was followed by Travora (which today acquired NileGuide) at 15.5 million visitors (also up 5 percent), and Yahoo! Travel was up 9 percent with 11.1 million visitors in March.

As is expected in the travel vertical, a rising tide lifts all planes — that is to say that airline sites benefited from travel’s boost in March traffic, growing 8 percent to 29.8 million visitors, with Southwest nabbing the most traffic, up 17 percent to 10.9 million visitors. Following Southwest was Delta at 6.1 million, United Airlines at 5.4 million, American at 4.8 million, JetBlue at 3.3 million, and U.S. Airways at 2.6 million.

As to the top 50 web properties, comScore found a usual suspect at the top of its rankings, with Google Sites bringing in 189.7 million visitors in March. Microsoft Sites came in second at 178.9 million, followed by Yahoo! Sites at 175.4 million, and Facebook.com at 158.9 million. In terms of March movers, Ask Network rose into the seventh spot, while ESPN vaulted six positions to 26th place.

Google also grabbed the top spot in comScore’s “Top 50 Ad Focus” ranking, with its ad network reaching 91.7 percent of U.S. consumers online, followed by AOL Advertising at 83.1 percent, Yahoo Network at 81.4 percent, and AT&T AdWords at 81.1 percent reach in March.

As for the top properties seeing the biggest change in unique visitor counts from February to March, interestingly PerformerSoft.com — the makers of software like PC optimizer, driver automatic updater, data recovery, etc — saw a 152 percent hike in traffic, up to 9.2 million visitors. Rounding out the list, in order, were Sun Microsystems, Babylon.com, College Humor, TheStreet, MLB.com, DailyMotion, SB Nation, Instagram, and ESPN.

More from comScore here. Charts below:



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Rip Empson

April 24th

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PROskore’s New Business Network Aims To Be LinkedIn + Klout + Leads Generation

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PROskore is a newly launched business network that ranks your social media activity and influence in combination with your professional experience in order to give you a score denoting your overall professional influence. At first glance, it sounds a lot like Klout, the popular service that measures online influence.

But unlike Klout, PROskore takes into account your business connections and actual work experience in its scoring methodology. It’s also built specifically for business networking purposes, allowing its users to focus on growing their companies. Meanwhile Klout, via its Klout Perks program, is more focused on help brands and advertisers grow their own businesses instead.

According to CEO Bill Jula, there are three main differences between PROskore and Klout. To paraphrase:

1) All of its user profiles have been created by people (that is, manually). Meanwhile, many of Klout’s profiles have been imported from Twitter. 

2) PROskore is about your professional reputation, but Klout is about your social influence.

3) PROskore is a business network, while Klout is about benefiting its advertisers. 

The system is actually more nuanced than a simple “social” ranking. For example, as explained by this company blog post, a Web designer in New York with a score of 45 is not the same as a Web designer in a small town in Georgia with the same score. In other words, scoring and rankings are relative to your region.

To create its scores, PROskore uses your social influence (this would be the aspect most similar to Klout), plus your activity on PROskore itself (e.g., the number of connections you have) and your professional resume. When building your profile, there’s a heavy emphasis on adding connections that are related to business, not social influence. For example, it asks you for your Facebook fan page URL, not your personal profile URL.

The site’s users can search for other members via the “Find a PRO” section at the top of the site. For those who have filled out what services they offer, this section can help generate leads which are automatically sent directly to your PROskore inbox and optionally forwarded to your personal email inbox.

Based in Sarasota, Florida, PROskore was spun out of an existing online business network called Fast Pitch! which had five years worth of revenue and over 100,000 members. However, a large percentage of the former Fast Pitch! members have not completed the profile wizard to generate their PROskore on the newly revamped network.

PROskore is currently self-funded, thanks to the ongoing revenue generation that came from Fast Pitch. The company operates on a freemium model, with options to pay monthly, quarterly and annually for access to the site’s advances features, like its automatic leads generation. Paying users can also take advantage of other business-focused apps like the email marketing system and tools for press release creation and distribution. Jula says that the site’s conversion rates are just over 10%.

In the short term, PROskore is focused on maximizing its viral growth and will be introducing a half-dozen profile badges for members (although not “cutesy” ones like on Foursquare, Jula assures us).

The company has discussed taking in additional funding to improve its marketing efforts, but no decision has been reached.

Below, what a PROskore user profile looks like when complete.



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Sarah Perez

October 25th

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Who says men don’t ask for directions? Maps is top Android app for men, Facebook for women

Market research firm Nielsen on Tuesday revealed the 20 most popular Android applications in the United States. Using data obtained from metered device usage as opposed to observations from surveys as most similar data is collected, Nielsen studied Android owners’ app usage over the past month. The result is a ranking of the platform’s top-20 applications by active reach, or the percentage of Android device owners who used each app within the past 30 days. Google’s Android Market topped the charts overall as well as among men and women alike, with a reach of nearly 91%. Google Maps was the second most popular app overall with a reach of 74.6%, and the app was No. 2 behind the Android Market for men with 77.1%. Gmail was third among men (75.5%), Google Search was fourth (72.4%) and Facebook rounded out the top-5 (66.9%). Among women, Facebook (81%) was second behind the Android Market, followed by Gmail (73.4%), Google Maps (71.9%) and Google Search (71.3%).

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Zach Epstein

September 13th

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Apple takes top spot in sixth consecutive J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey

J.D. Power and Associates released its 2011 U.S. Wireless Handset Customer Satisfaction Study, Volume 2 on Thursday, and Apple took the top spot among smartphone manufacturers for the sixth consecutive time. The iPhone maker had a score of 838 on a 1,000-point scale and was trailed by HTC, which had a score of 801. Samsung was ranked highest in the traditional handset category with a score of 718 and was followed closely by LG (717), Sanyo (716), and Sony Ericsson (709). The survey also found that customers with 4G-capable devices were more satisfied than those with 3G phones. Satisfaction among 4G phone users averaged out at a score of 819 versus 786 for 3G device users. Read on for more.

“It’s not unexpected that satisfaction is higher for devices that have new technological advances or features,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “Having the right combination of physical dimensions and operating functions and features for both smartphones and traditionally equipped devices is key to creating an exceptional ownership experience with each type of wireless device.” J.D. Power and Associates surveyed 6,898 smartphone owners and 8,775 mobile phone users between January and June of this year. The full press release follows below.

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: The Right Blend of Design and Technology is Critical to Creating an Exceptional User Experience with Smartphones and Traditional Mobile Devices

Apple Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Smartphone Manufacturers, While Samsung Ranks Highest among Traditional Mobile Phone Manufacturers

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 8 September 2011 — Overall satisfaction with smartphones and traditional mobile phones is considerably higher for devices that are a specific size and weight and are equipped with the latest technological advancements, such as high-quality display screens, faster processing speeds, longer battery life and touch screen capabilities, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction StudySM—Volume 2 and the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction StudySM—Volume 2, both released today.

Satisfaction with both smartphones and traditional or “feature” phones is greatly impacted by the physical design and dimensions of the device. For example, satisfaction ratings are highest (8.1 on a 10-point scale) when the weight of the smartphone device does not exceed 5 ounces. In comparison, satisfaction averages 7.6 for smartphone devices that are 5 ounces or heavier. The same scenario holds true for feature phones, for which satisfaction with the weight of the device peaks between 3 and 3.5 ounces, and drops considerably when the feature phone weighs 4 ounces or more.

The width and thickness of the smartphone device are also critical in maximizing the ownership experience, and echo the old adage that “thinner is better” holds true. Overall physical design satisfaction is highest (852 on a 1,000-point scale) for smartphones that are less than 0.45 inches wide. In comparison, satisfaction averages 783 for smartphones that are 0.65 inches wide or wider.

Technology advancements also impact the experience of mobile devices in a number of areas. For example, touch screen-only smartphones generate considerably higher satisfaction with ease of operation (817 points) than either QWERTY-only based devices or those that have both a touch screen and QWERTY functions (785 and 782 points, respectively).

In addition, faster processing speeds, higher computer chip bit rates and the most advanced display screens (such as Super AMOLED vs. older LCD-based screens) all add significantly to user satisfaction. Even the number of megapixels found in camera-enabled mobile devices influences the ownership experience. In general, the higher the number of megapixels, the higher the satisfaction with camera picture and video quality. However, devices with at least 5 megapixels achieve nearly as high a satisfaction score as those smartphones with 8 megapixels or more.

“It’s not unexpected that satisfaction is higher for devices that have new technological advances or features,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. “Having the right combination of physical dimensions and operating functions and features for both smartphones and traditionally equipped devices is key to creating an exceptional ownership experience with each type of wireless device.”

These two studies have been updated to measure customer satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets and smartphones among owners who have used their current mobile phone for less than one year by examining several key factors. In order of importance, the key factors of overall satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets are: performance (31%); ease of operation (24%); physical design (24%); and features (20%). For smartphones, the key factors are: performance (35%); ease of operation (24%); features (21%); and physical design (20%).

For a sixth consecutive time, Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple achieves a score of 838 and performs well in all factors, particularly in ease of operation and features. HTC (801) follows Apple in the smartphone rankings.

Samsung ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction with traditional handsets with a score of 718. Samsung performs well in three factors: performance, ease of operation and features. LG (717), Sanyo (716) and Sony Ericsson (709) follow Samsung in the traditional handset rankings.

The studies also find the following key wireless handset usage patterns:

  • The price of a traditional wireless mobile phone continues to decline and averages $71 in 2011, compared with an average of $81 at the beginning of 2009. The decline is primarily due to discounts provided by handset providers and wireless service carriers to incentivize sales. Currently, 42 percent of owners report having received a free mobile phone when subscribing to a wireless service.
  • Mobile applications continue to enhance the smartphone user experience. More than two-thirds of owners say they have downloaded games and social networking applications to their device. More than one-half (54%) say they have downloaded entertainment-oriented applications, while 52 percent indicate having downloaded travel software, such as maps and weather applications. This indicates that smartphone owners are continuing to integrate their device usage into both their business and personal lives.
  • Customers are highly satisfied with 4G-capable devices. Satisfaction among customers using 4G-capable phones averages 819, compared with 786 among customers using phones with 3G capability. Owners of 4G devices are also more active in terms of calling, texting and browsing the Internet.

The 2011 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study—Volume 2 and the 2011 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study—Volume 2 are based on experiences reported by 6,898 smartphone owners and 8,775 traditional mobile phone owners. Both studies were fielded between January and June 2011.

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Todd Haselton

September 8th

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