Brits obsessed with social networking

LONDON, UK – Brits appear to be social-networking mad, according to new figures from Neilsen Online. Facebook has become the most heavily-used web brand in the UK, accounting for a staggering 13 per cent of online time last month – or one in every eight minutes.

Altogther, the ten most heavily-used brands – a list dominated by entertainment and communication sites of one sort of another – account for 45 per cent of UK internet time. By contrast, the equivalent list for the US is rather less hedonistic, with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo heading the list and Facebook trailing a poor seventh.

“I think most people would be surprised by just how much time is accounted for by a relatively few brands who, in turn, are increasing their share of the pie.” says Alex Burmaster, Communications Director for EMEA, Nielsen Online.  “Between just the two of them, the two most heavily used web brands – Facebook and MSN/Windows Live – account for almost 11 billion of the 48 billion minutes that Britons spend online. That’s over one in every five minutes.”

In April 2009, the average Briton spent 22 hours 20 minutes online or using Internet-related applications. This represents a 34 percent increase on a year ago when the figure was 16 hours 36 minutes. Facebook is one of the major factors in the increasing time people are spending online, with the site recording 3.8 billion more minutes in April 2009 than April 2008.

The 10 most heavily-used web brands were Facebook, MSN/Windows Live, Google, eBay, Yahoo!, AOL Media Network, the BBC, YouTube, Microsoft – mainly Windows Media Player – and Apple iTunes.

Burmaster concludes, “The major players have had a pretty good year in terms of the increasing amount of time people spend on their websites and applications. This bodes well for the online industry as it attempts to attract the big brand advertisers by providing a more meaningful platform to engage consumers, particularly through the vehicles of entertainment and communication.”