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Apple is the fastest growing site on the internet, with traffic up 57 per cent since last November, thanks to the popularity of its iTunes music service.

According to the latest figures from Nielsen/NetRatings, Google and Amazon also saw significant year-over-year increases, growing 29 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.

MapQuest - which provides free maps, driving directions and traffic reports - had the fourth biggest growth, followed by online media site Real Networks and online auction site eBay. Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and MSN rounded out the top ten.

"Fierce competition for online visitors continues to be a catalyst for the launch of new products and features," said Gerry Davidson, senior media analyst with Nielsen/NetRatings, in a statement. "They keep visitors interested and engaged."

Yahoo continues to attract the largest audience, with 104m unique visitors during the month, a ten per cent year-on-year increase. The survey also showed that the average Yahoo visitor stayed on the site for three minutes and 22 seconds. Microsoft.com came second, with 96m unique visitors, staying for an average of 43 seconds. The other portals in the top ten included MSN, Google, AOL, eBay, Amazon, MapQuest, Real and Apple.

Microsoft is the organisation that gets the most web traffic when the visitors from its Microsoft.com and MSN sites are combined.

Visitor numbers are a key consideration for advertisers considering placing ads on sites. According to the survey, Vonage was the biggest advertising spender in November, having spent $31m promoting its VoIP phone service. Lowermybills.com was second with $11.5m, according to Nielsen/Netratings' AdRelevance service. The other top-ten spenders included BellSouth Corporation, General Mills, Dell, Scottrade, QuinStreet, Verizon, General Motor and Netflix.

The estimated spending reflects costs-per-impression advertising only, whereby companies pay to have their ads displayed on the websites of other companies and are charged for each time that the ad is displayed in a visitor's web browser.

The figures exclude search-based advertising, paid fee services, performance-based campaigns, sponsorships, barters, partnership advertising, advertorials, promotions, e-mail and direct response advertising campaigns.

The fastest growing small site is image-hosting site PhotoBucket, which went from 1m to 15.6m visitors over the past 12 months. The second, third and fourth fastest growing site - MySpace, Facebook and Memegen.net - operate in the social networking area. Current events site Slate was ranked fifth, having grown 390 per cent year-over-year.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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