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News Item

Nine Out of Ten Visited a Social Networking Site

Internet Users Age 55 and Older More Likely to Visit Social Networking Sites than Business & Finance, Technology and Travel

Social Media Journal

comScore released the results of a study into U.K. social networking site usage by age of visitor, based on data from the comScore World Metrix audience measurement service. The study found that 29.4 million people accessed at least one social networking site in the U.K. in May, averaging 4.6 hours per visitor during the month, with Facebook.com ranking as the most visited social networking site.

Social Networking Reach High Among All Age Groups
Social networking has become a mainstream online activity among all age groups, with 80 percent of the total U.K. online population having visited a site in the category in May. Penetration was highest amongst 25-34 year old Internet users, 89 percent of whom visited the category during the month, followed by 15-24 year olds (86 percent). Category penetration was somewhat lower among the older age groups, but remained relatively high, reaching two thirds of the total online population age 55 and older. Comparatively, slightly more people from this age group visited a social networking site in May than visited a business & finance (63 percent), technology (62 percent) or travel site (52 percent).

Engagement also skewed more heavily towards the younger age segments, with 15-24 and 25-34 year olds averaging 5.4 hours per user per month compared with 3.7 hours per month among users age 55 and older. Overall, social networking was the second most popular online activity in the U.K. based on average time spent per user (4.6 hours), trailing only instant messaging (8.6 hours).

    
    Age Profile of U.K. Social Networking Site Category Visitors
    May 2009
    Total U.K., Age 15+ - Home & Work Locations
    Source: comScore World Metrix
    -------------------------------------------------------------
       Age Segment                     % Reach      Average Hours
                                                     per Visitor
       -----------                     -------      --------------
    Total U.K. Internet
     Audience                             80%             4.6
    -------------------                   --              ---
        Persons: 15-24                    86%             5.4
        --------------                    --              ---
        Persons: 25-34                    89%             5.4
        --------------                    --              ---
        Persons: 35-44                    79%             4.3
        --------------                    --              ---
        Persons: 45-54                    77%             3.9
        --------------                    --              ---
        Persons: 55+                      67%             3.7
        -----------                       --              ---

    *Excludes Internet activity from public computers such as Internet cafes
     or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

"Accurate demographic profiling is the crux of effective digital media planning and advertising," said Mike Read , SVP and managing director, comScore Europe. "Understanding audience composition is particularly important in a category such as social networking, as there continues to be a misconception that social networking is the preserve of the young. While those under 35 years old are certainly the more prevalent users, there is both a sizeable and heavily engaged audience of those 35 and older as well. In fact, advertising on social networking sites has a better chance of reaching these older demographics than site categories such as business and finance, which is a critical insight that might be lost for those trying to optimize their campaign against target audience segments."

Top 10 Social Networking Sites in U.K.
Of the 36.9 million people in the U.K. age 15 and older who accessed the Internet from a home or work location in May 2009, 29.4 million visited at least one social networking site, representing an 80-percent reach and a 9-percent growth versus year ago. Facebook.com ranked as the most popular social networking site with 23.9 million visitors, followed by Bebo.com (8.5 million visitors), Windows Live Profile (6.9 million visitors) and MySpace Sites (6.5 million visitors). Micro-blogging site Twitter.com grew more than 3,000 percent during the past year to 2.7 million visitors in May 2009.

    
    Top 10 Social Networking Sites
    Ranked by Total U.K. Unique Visitors (000)*
    May 2009 vs. May 2008
    Total U.K., Age 15+ - Home & Work Locations
    Source: comScore World Metrix
    ---------------------------------------------
         Property                  May-08        May-09       % Change
         --------                  ------        ------       --------
    Total U.K. Internet
     Audience                      34,489        36,855            7
    -------------------            ------        ------            -
    Social Networking              27,118        29,444            9
    -----------------              ------        ------            -
    Facebook.com                   15,195        23,860           57
    ------------                   ------        ------           --
    Bebo                           11,895         8,546          -28
    ----                           ------         -----          ---
    Windows Live Profile              N/A         6,891          N/A
    --------------------       ----------         -----   ----------
    MySpace Sites                   8,335         6,531          -22
    -------------                   -----         -----          ---
    Twitter.com                        80         2,670        3,226
    -----------                        --         -----        -----
    Digg.com                        1,311         1,759           34
    --------                        -----         -----           --
    Friends Reunited Group          3,271         1,629          -50
    ----------------------          -----         -----          ---
    Tagged.com                        669         1,625          143
    ----------                        ---         -----          ---
    Deviantart.com                    900         1,453           61
    --------------                    ---         -----           --
    Buzznet                           939         1,370           46
    -------                           ---         -----           --
    *Excludes Internet activity from public computers such as Internet cafes
     or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

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