Facebook Trumps Top 20 Sites in Time Spent

What Exodus? Facebook Trumps Top 20 Sites in Time Spent
Length of User Experience Can Help Media Buyers Gauge Influence, and Soc-Net Is at the Top of the Pack

by Abbey Klaassen
Published: September 07, 2009

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — How many visitors a website gets matters, but so does the amount of time people spend on the website. And in that category, Facebook is smoking the rest of the big guns.

Mike Murphy, VP-global sales, Facebook
Users spent an average of five hours and 12 minutes on the site in July, according to Nielsen — that’s up from just one hour and 30 minutes a year ago. The next-closest of the giant web properties: Yahoo, at three hours, 23 minutes; followed by AOL (two hours, 36 minutes); Fox Interactive (two hours, 19 minutes); and MSN (two hours, eight minutes). Who ever said portals were dead?
One explanation for the growth: The network effect. As Facebook’s audience has ballooned, there are more people on the site for any given user to connect to, play games with and comment on, making it more useful and entertaining and increasing the amount of time each user spends on it. It also helps that Facebook has managed to maintain frequency of use.

“A couple years ago, about half of our users logged onto Facebook every day, and as we’ve grown to 250 million worldwide users, that number hasn’t changed,” said Mike Murphy, VP-global sales at Facebook. “It makes it more engaging from a user standpoint and we get more minutes spent, which means we have more opportunities to show more people an ad message in a given day.”

That, he said, has allowed the site to expand the number of big advertisers it works with. Right now, 83 of Ad Age’s 100 Leading National Advertisers are on Facebook.

Influential metric
Time spent is increasingly important as a site saturates the online audience. The law of large numbers means it gets harder to grow by just adding new users, so it’s important to grow the amount of time spent and mind share among existing users. Today, Facebook is the fourth-largest property in terms of unique visitors, with just shy of 97 million monthly unique visitors, behind Google, Yahoo and MSN/Windows Live.

Time spent is an increasingly important way for media buyers and planners to gauge a site’s importance and influence on people, said Rachel Ooms, VP-group media director at Moxie Interactive.

“Buying media is about targeting mass audiences and it’s about where people are flocking. If people are there, we want to be there,” she said.

Added Rick Gardinier, chief digital officer of Brunner: “Unique visitors or banner-ad click-throughs are just one piece to the puzzle. We’re starting to look at engagement and time spent in rich media or in specific content areas. Those are sometimes more important.” However, he cautioned, just because people spend a lot of time on a site doesn’t mean they’re in prime ad-reception mode. And that can occur with social networks.

Still, from Facebook’s standpoint, the more time people are on it, the more time they will have to see its homepage ad, which is a key part of its monetization strategy. That equation — more time on a website equals more opportunity for exposure — has inspired some web sellers to recast their sales models to sell on time-based metrics. Betawave, under CEO Matt Freeman’s direction, is aggregating sites that command attention, using time as a proxy. And VideoEgg has been marketing its network based on the idea that attention to an ad is what really matters. Time is an essential component of that.

Time suck
“Most brand-building environments have historically been about taking discrete pieces of consumer’s time,” said Videoegg Chief Marketing Officer Troy Young. “So how do we make internet advertising less about traffic generation and navigation and more about time?”

Incidentally, Facebook commands a lot of time — the most of the 20 largest sites — but it’s not the biggest time suck on the web, according to Nielsen. Among sites with more than a half-million unique visitors, Blizzard Entertainment is tops, with almost 24 hours a month, followed by an array of other mostly gaming-related sites. Facebook ranks eighth.

Not every site wants people to hang around. Google, for example, has for years talked about its goal to get people to what they’re looking for fast. In fact, Google’s Marisa Mayer has said a page-load delay of 400 milliseconds can translate into a 1% drop in search query volume.

This week's insights into Monetization and Social Media

August 26, 2009

2009 Is the Year of Social Media
Twitter today is the first place you go to when there’s breaking news. Sites like Digg, Reddit, and Facebook can now leave a huge impact on the real world; lives are changed, important questions are asked (and answered) there. Many milestones have been reached; the growth of nearly every aspect of social media has and continues to be enormous. (http://tinyurl.com/crk6vd)

Facebook has launched an application that allows users to simultaneously update both a Facebook Page and a Twitter account. This is intriguing for a few reasons beyond the simple utility of it, as it could be a sign of things to come in terms of integration between the two social sites. (http://tinyurl.com/mt3tze)

According to a recent study from PR firm Burson-Marsteller, 54 percent of the Fortune 100 companies have a Twitter presence, 32 percent have a blog, and 29 percent have an active Facebook Page. Moreover, at companies using only one of these tools, at 76 percent of them, the tool of choice is Twitter. (http://tinyurl.com/lfm3d3)

Earlier this year, it was reported that 63 percent of companies planned to increase their spending on social media in 2009. Thus, it’s not too surprising that a recent study from the Association of National Advertisers reveal that 66 percent of marketers have now used social media in some capacity in 2009. The top platforms being utilized: Facebook (74%), YouTube (65%), Twitter (63%), LinkedIn (60%). Combined, this usage represents significant growth from 2007, when the same survey indicated that just 20 percent of marketers were using social media. (http://tinyurl.com/n8754k)

Spending on social media marketing is expected to rise at better than 30 percent annually over the next five years. The research firm, eMarketer, projects that MySpace revenue in the US will total $495 million this year significantly ahead of the $230 million in domestic revenue they expect Facebook to generate.

Twitter has left many critics silent by continuing to grow. It’s all about the people and how the service has been put to use by the millions. Whether using it during their everyday lives, marketing a business or reporting on tragic events, users have shown the value of Twitter and will continue to contribute to its growth. (http://tinyurl.com/munrlz)

@DellOutlet has been one of the biggest success stories amongst big companies using social media. For those unaware, @DellOutlet is a Twitter account owned by Dell that tweets out major discounts for Dell computers and products. All of the deals on @DellOutlet are Twitter-exclusive.

It has gained quite a following (620,000+ followers) and sold a lot of computers – at the end of last year, they surpassed $1 million in revenue, after about a year and a half’s worth of tweeting. Twitter’s phenomenal growth and Dell’s social savvy have pushed sales from Dell Outlet to over $2 million, in 1/3 the time needed to pass the first milestone. And @DellOutlet is still on the rapid rise. (http://tinyurl.com/lq4tsm)

Mig33, a mobile social networking service, has raised $13.5 million in funding, adding to $10 million the company raised in May of last year. If you’re not familiar with the company, it’s relatively new to the US, initially gaining traction overseas, passing 6 million members last summer.Since then, the company has re-located to the US and now claims more than 9 million total users. (http://tinyurl.com/229oyd)

For non-profit organizations and other charities, social media is potentially an incredibly powerful tool to get the word out, connect with constituents, rally support, and even raise money. (http://tinyurl.com/nrjhtx)

Mashable’s first ever Social Good Conference is approaching. Held on Friday, August 28 at the historic 92nd Street Y in NYC, the conference will be a one-day educational event celebrating the finale of the Summer of Social Good charitable campaign. The conference features keynotes from Facebook’s Randi Zuckerberg and All For Good’s Jonathan Greenblatt, and presentations from well known and respected organizations and professionals within the space focused on the theme of “Social Media for Social Good”. (http://tinyurl.com/nwnarx)

How agencies are integrating social media services into their operations

AdvertisingAge has been exploring how various agencies are integrating social media services into their operations. Some like Edelmen have hired inhouse social media teams; others, like BBDO are using young mentors to teach all their executives how to Facebook, Blog, twitter, and otherwise function and think like authentic socail media players.

Doug Checkeris, CEO of MediaCom North America, how they are handling integrating social media services.”There are lots of ways for us to get the individual components done by specialists. We don’t necessarily need to bring all of those resources into the building and make them into a socail media team. What we need to do is have a clear idea of what we want to do and get the best people in the business to work on it. In terms of bloggers we can find them. Every situation will require different blogging specialists. We can search that and source that. We want to concentrate on understanding the inside driven strategy and how it relates to choosing social media and how we apply it to an integrated campaign.”