WebSideStory, a San Diego, Calif.-based company that measures Internet audiences, said that as of Feb. 6, nearly 52 percent of Web surfers arrived at sites by direct navigation and bookmarks, compared with about 46 percent during the same period last year.
The results underscore how branding on the Web is gaining momentum and having a household name is becoming key to driving traffic to a company's site, WebSideStory said. The study showed that sites with branded names, such as Amazon.com, receive more direct traffic than those sites that aren't branded because people are familiar with them and only need to type in the Web address rather than fish around on a search engine.
"It's less common that people surf," said Geoff Johnston, vice president of product marketing for StatMarket, a division of WebSideStory. "More common now is that people know where they want to go, and they go there."
Johnston said that in the early days when people surfed on the Internet, they "were just bouncing all over this thing like a giant garage sale or like a flea market." But as a result of the advances in technology, particularly browsers, people are going directly to sites by typing in the Web address or a bookmark faster.
Founded in 1996, WebSideStory's customers include companies such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Intel. WebSideStory measures 130,000 sites on a daily basis.