January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Pet Stores Sock It To The Wild Web

Online pet stores have shown dramatic increases in numbers of shoppers over the past weeks with advertisers from last Sunday's Super Bowl registering a substantial boost in traffic, says Internet research firm PC Data, Reston, Va. The competitiveness of the online pets business and the resulting heavy advertising campaigns have enhanced the awareness of pets shopping online, it says.

The pets.com Super Bowl Sunday traffic grew by more than 220% over the previous Sunday, says Ann Stephens, president of PC Data. Traffic for the previous day was also elevated due to its pre-Super Bowl campaign and significant news hype about "dot-com" advertising, she adds.

Some 15% of the visitors in the days after the Super Bowl were new to the site this year, the firm says. And over the past few months, pets.com has experienced one of the highest conversion rates from shoppers to buyers among e-tailing sites at 18%, says PC Data.

The sock puppet mascot depicted pets.com's commercial was also named one of the most popular spots advertised during the Super Bowl, PC Data indicates. In a survey conducted by PC Data earlier this week, pets.com was named the second most memorable advertising spot among dot- com companies, behind online brokerage firm E*Trade.com, and the most popular among women viewers.

"The pets.com example shows that as dot-com brands become mainstream, traditional advertising media can put virtual stores on par with their brick-and-mortar counterparts,'' says PC Data Vice President Howard Dyckovsky.

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