Direct Marketing, Mail Order, and E-commerce News from the National Mail Order Association

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Social Networking Sites Grow 47 Percent, Year Over Year, Reaching 45 Percent

of Web Users, According to Nielsen//NetRatings

 

Successful Sites Drive High Visitor Retention Rates

 

NEW YORK- Nielsen//NetRatings, a global leader in Internet media

and market research, announced today that April's top 10 social networking sites

collectively grew 47 percent year over year, increasing from an unduplicated

unique audience of 46.8 million last year to 68.8 million in April 2006, reaching

45 percent of active Web users.

 

MySpace, which has attracted significant media attention of late, topped the

list with 38.4 million unique visitors and a remarkable year-over-year growth

rate of 367 percent (see Table 1). Blogger took the No. 2 spot, garnering 18.5

million unique visitors and growing 80 percent year over year, followed by Classmates

Online with 12.9 million unique visitors and a 10 percent year-over-year increase.

Newcomer YouTube and the more established MSN Groups rounded out the top five,

with 12.5 million and 10.6 million unique visitors, respectively.

 

“Social networking sites are the reality television of the Internet,” said Jon

Gibs, senior director of media, Nielsen//NetRatings. “The content is relatively

inexpensive for publishers to produce, and social networking is not a fad that

will disappear. If anything, it will become more ingrained in mainstream sites,

just as reality TV programming has become ubiquitous in network programming,”

Gibs continued. “However, again like reality programming, the concept of 'reality'

alone, or in this case 'social networking,' is not enough. In this competitive

marketplace, sites also have to provide consumers with distinct content they

can identify with.”

 

Table 1: Top 10 Social Networking Sites* for April 2006 (U.S., Home and Work)

+-------------------+------------------+------------------+-------------+

| Site              |  Apr-05 UA (000) |  Apr-06 UA (000) |  YOY Growth |

+-------------------+------------------+------------------+-------------+

| MySpace           |            8,210 |           38,359 |        367% |

| Blogger           |           10,301 |           18,508 |         80% |

| Classmates Online |           11,672 |           12,865 |         10% |

| YouTube           |              N/A |           12,505 |         N/A |

| MSN Groups        |           12,352 |           10,570 |        -14% |

| AOL Hometown      |           11,236 |            9,590 |        -15% |

| Yahoo! Groups     |            8,262 |            9,165 |         11% |

| MSN Spaces        |            1,857 |            7,165 |        286% |

| Six Apart TypePad |            5,065 |            6,711 |         32% |

| Xanga.com         |            5,202 |            6,631 |         27% |

+-------------------+------------------+------------------+-------------+

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, May 2006

* Note: This is a custom category and does not appear in Nielsen//NetRatings'

syndicated service.

 

Loyal Users

The interactive nature of social networking sites keeps visitors coming back.

MySpace enjoyed the highest retention rate among the group, with 67 percent of

all March at-home visitors returning in April (see Table 2). MSN Groups and Facebook

also benefited from a loyal following, with 58 and 52 percent of visitors returning

month over month, respectively. Xanga.com and MSN's new social networking site

MSN Spaces rounded out the top five sites ranked by retention rate, with 49 and

47 percent, respectively.

 

“The social networking sites that are seeing strong growth have developed a unique

online presence that is continually refreshed by user generated content,” said

Gibs. “This promotes ongoing consumer interest and visitor loyalty.  However,

while these sites have seen explosive growth over the past 12 months, this is

a fickle youth audience, and the masses that have rushed to these sites, could

turn their attention elsewhere. The question that remains is 'how strong are

the social networks that consumers are building on these sites?'”

 

Table 2: Top 5 Social Networking Sites ranked according to Retention Rate,

April 2006 (U.S., Home Only)

+-------------+----------------------------+

| Brand       |         Retention Rate (%) |

+-------------+----------------------------+

| MySpace     |                      67.04 |

| MSN Groups  |                      57.62 |

| Facebook    |                      51.73 |

| Xanga.com   |                      48.92 |

| MSN Spaces  |                      47.33 |

+-------------+----------------------------+

Source: Nielsen//NetRatings, May 2006

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