London, 17th August 2005: With the wedding season heating up, brides, bridesmaids and best men are rushing online to find everything from planning advice to suggestions for toasts.

Analysis from Hitwise, the leader in online competitive intelligence, reveals that the market share of visits to wedding websites grew 15% year on year, comparing the weeks of 13th August in 2005 and 2004. The peaks in visits to sites in the Hitwise Weddings category occur in August and January and visits to wedding websites have increased by 42% in the past month alone.

“Analysis of our search terms data reveals that the peak in January is caused by a flurry of wedding planning activity, while the summer months attract last minute planners and jittery speech givers to wedding websites” said Heather Hopkins, Director of Research for Hitwise UK.

While searches for ‘wedding dresses’ remain strong all year round, they peak in late January and early February. Searches for ‘wedding invitations’, ‘wedding cakes’ and ‘wedding venues’ are highest in January, indicating that brides-to-be use online resources for wedding planning. The summer brings those searching for clues to successful speeches, with 6 of the top 30 terms sending visits to wedding websites relating to speeches and readings. Some of the most popular terms include ‘best man speeches’, ‘wedding speeches’ and ‘wedding readings’.

“Marketers can maximize effectiveness of search marketing campaigns by keeping in mind the seasonal popularity of various search terms” said Hopkins.

Wedding Site Visitors are Active Shoppers

Wedding websites send 16% of visits to sites in the Hitwise Shopping and Classifieds category, indicating that those planning and attending weddings are prone to visit retail websites for buying last minute supplies and gifts. A closer look at the top two ranked wedding sites, www.confetti.co.uk and www.hitched.co.uk, reveals that popular downstream sites include eBay UK, Amazon UK, Debenhams, and various photo sites.

Smaller Players are Snapping at the Heals of the Long-Dominant www.Confetti.co.uk and www.Hitched.co.uk

www.Confetti.co.uk and www.hitched.co.uk have been the #1 and #2 ranked websites in the Hitwise Weddings category for each of the past 15 months. Both have enjoyed healthy growth in share of visits, with a 19% and 14% increase in visits in the past four weeks.

However, looking at the growth of these sites in isolation tells only half the story. Confetti and Hitched are facing increased competition from smaller wedding planning and niche sites and are in fact losing market share within the Hitwise Weddings category. In the past four weeks,

www.Confetti.co.uk has lost 22% market share within the Weddings category; and
www.Hitched.co.uk has lost 24% market share within the Weddings category.

About Hitwise:

Hitwise is the world’s leading online competitive intelligence service. Each day, Hitwise monitors how more than 25 million Internet users interact with over 500,000 websites across 160 industry categories.

By monitoring more people, more websites, more often, Hitwise provides marketers with timely and actionable marketing insights on how their online presence compares to competitive websites. Companies use this information to maximize the return on their online investment, in efforts such as search marketing, affiliate programs, online advertising, visitor segmentation, content development and lead generation.

Hitwise collects Internet usage information via a combination of ISP data partnerships and opt-in mega panels, and complies with local and international privacy legislation as audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Founded in 1997, Hitwise is a privately held company, headquartered in New York City and operates in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

More information about Hitwise is available at www.hitwise.co.uk

For media enquiries, please contact:

Jannie Cahill
jannie.cahill@hitwise.com
Tel: 020 7378 3600

Published on: 12:00AM on 18th August 2005