Advertising on UK Social NetworksJANUARY 8, 2009
MySpace, Bebo and Facebook jostle for market share, ad pounds.
In mid-2008, eMarketer calculated that UK social network ad spending would reach £175 million ($322 million) in 2009. Changes in the market have led to revisions of the 2009 estimate downward by about 20%, although that would still be a healthy increase over the £115 million ($212 million) total estimated for 2008.
Some of this adjustment is due to the general economic climate. But it also reflects the fact that MySpace, the world’s most popular social network among English speakers, has had difficulty gaining traction in the UK. Hitwise found that in its social networks category, the UK market share of MySpace had fallen by one-half in the year to June 2008, from over 29% to less than 15%.
The popularity of Bebo, with its younger audience profile, is falling too. Nielsen Online data from August 2008 showed Bebo ousted from second place in its UK social site rankings by Blogger. Bebo fell to fourth place, according to Nielsen, and achieved just 14.1% audience reach.
Facebook, by contrast, has done well in recent months. Its UK unique user base grew from 12.4 million in December 2007 to 18.4 million in September 2008, according to comScore World Metrix. Yet Facebook continues to struggle with ad sales in the UK, as in the US.
Such shifts in audience loyalty are bound to make some advertisers think twice before using social networks as central elements of their marketing strategies.
Nonetheless, social network ads in the UK will represent about 4.4% of total online ad spending in 2009. That spending recognizes the growing percentage of the online population that uses social networks. More than one-third of UK Internet users ages 18 to 55 had visited such sites in the past month as of December 2008, according to TNS, and more than one-half of teens have a social networking profile.
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