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Americans Adopt Pre-Paid Mobile Phones

comScore released a quarterly review of the U. S. prepaid wireless industry based on online visitation and online search referral activity to six leading prepaid wireless sites.

The study showed strong gains in online activity as consumers increasingly use keyword searches t0 turn to cost-effective wireless service alternatives during the current 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.

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.

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.

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