Terra Lycos Announces 5th Anniversary of The Lycos 50

    September 16, 2004

The Lycos 50 Looks Back at How Web Search Activity Has Changed Over the Past Five Years; Most-Searched Events and Items from Sept. 1999 Through Today.

Terra Lycos today announced the fifth anniversary of The Lycos 50, a weekly list of the most popular people, places and things Web users are searching for on Lycos. Lycos launched its first Lycos 50 weekly list on Sept. 15, 1999. Over the past five years, The Lycos 50 has evolved into a pop culture barometer, becoming a premier destination for Web users who want to keep up with the next big thing and for media and advertisers who want to immediately appeal to those users.

Dean Tsouvalas, current writer of The Lycos 50, looks back at which search terms were hot five years ago compared to now, and which items are still top of mind with Web users. In September 1999, it was the Backstreet Boys and Beanie Babies that were all the rage online. Five years later, Clay Aiken and Poker dominate Web search activity.

“But through it all, Britney Spears has been consistently the most popular Internet search topic,” said Dean Tsouvalas, writer of The Lycos 50. “Britney appeared at number two on our very first Lycos 50 list in Sept. 1999, and she has appeared on every list since then. It’s rare for Britney to drop out of the top 10, and she has never fallen out of the top 20 in five years.”

Other search terms from the very first list, like Pamela Anderson, NFL and Dragonball, have remained on The Lycos 50 since day one. The WWF, now known as the WWE, Las Vegas, Tattoos, Marijuana and the Bible, continue to appear on the list each week since they first emerged on the Lycos search logs in Sept. 1999. Lycos also tracked the popularity of Napster, which was eventually out- searched by Morpheus. KaZaA ultimately topped both music-file swapping services in Web search activity, and only KaZaA remains on the list today.

In 2001, the terrorist attacks on America brought entirely new search terms onto The Lycos 50 and search activity was able to give an immediate pulse on what the world was thinking.

“The week after the Sept. 11 attacks on America, 24 of the 50 items on The Lycos 50 were directly related to the attacks and some search terms remained on the list for several weeks,” Tsouvalas added. “Osama bin Laden spent 14 weeks in the top 10, including holding the number one spot for five weeks. Three Sept. 11-related search topics — Osama bin Laden, Nostradamus and World Trade Center — were among the 10 most-searched topics for the entire year of 2001, but by February 2002, Osama bin Laden dropped off the list after 22 weeks and the World Trade Center declined in search queries, dropping from the list after 23 weeks.”

Just as the September 11 terrorist attacks had a dramatic effect on Web search activity, the beginning of the War on Iraq also brought a number of new topics to The Lycos 50.

“Al-Jazeera became the new number one term with Web users, generating three times as much search activity as anything else, due to the POW video, which North American television media outlets chose not to air,” Tsouvalas said.

The War in Iraq became a popular search topic once again when earlier this year, reports and photos of prisoner abuse at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib Prison began to surface. News events, like the killing of American captive Nick Berg by Iraqi militants, also greatly affected Web search activity and defined the power of the Internet. “Over the past five years, Web users have learned they can turn to the Internet to find photos, videos and news they may not be able to get from television broadcasts and newspaper reports,” Tsouvalas added.

Trivial news events like the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction and the emergence of the Paris Hilton sex video, also changed Web search activity. “Prior to the Jackson incident, the most-searched event in the history of The Lycos 50 over a one-day period, was the Sept. 11 attack on America,” Tsouvalas said. “Jackson’s half-time exposure far surpassed all other top stories we have tracked over the past five years, including the 2000 Election, the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion and the beginning of the Iraq War.”

The Lycos 50 Top 10 Search Terms for the Week Ending Sept. 13, 1999:

1) Pokemon
2) Britney Spears
3) Football
4) Pamela Anderson
5) Dragonball
6) WWF
7) NFL
8) Backstreet Boys
9) Dogs
10) Beanie Babies

They Lycos 50 Top 10 Search Terms for the Week Ending Sept. 11, 2004:

1) Michelle Vieth
2) Clay Aiken
3) Paris Hilton
4) Pamela Anderson
5) KaZaA
6) Poker
7) Britney Spears
8) Hurricane Ivan
9) Brooke Burke
10) NFL

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