Posted September 3, 2009 2:03 pm by with 10 comments

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social-media-collageWe reported one stat from a new comScore report yesterday—that Facebook served 8.2% of all online ads—but the full report is even more impressive.

More than one in five of all online ads are served on social networks. MySpace still leads the pack with 9.2% of all online ads, and Facebook is a close second with 8.2%. The 3.7% of online ads served on social networks is split among such sites as,,, Bebo, and other smaller sites, most with 0.1% or less of the total online ad market:

Top Online Display Ad Publishers in Social Networking Category
June 2009
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Source: comScore Ad Metrix
Total Display Ad Impressions (MM) Share of Display Ads Ad Exposed Unique Visitors (000)
Total Internet : Total Audience 326,899 100.0 188,589
Social Networking 68,927 21.1 129,620
MySpace Sites 30,004 9.2 64,472 26,813 8.2 67,389 1,940 0.6 7,422 496 0.2 1,067 461 0.1 3,459
Bebo 435 0.1 6,350 Sites 400 0.1 9,181 345 0.1 2,084 258 0.1 1,859 204 0.1 3,681

The top advertisers on social networks were AT&T (seriously?), with >2B ad impressions, 30% of its online advertising (seriously?). Other top advertisers included Experian (1.25B impressions, 24% of its online ads), (950M impressions, almost 47% of its online ads), Sprint (790M impressions, 26% of its online ads), Pangea Media (572M impressions, almost 90% of its online ads) and Microsoft (564M impressions, only 17% of its online ads).

So mobile phones and also-ran search engines are among the top advertisers on social networks. I guess the mobile phones make sense—we’re on social media to connect to other people, and that’s what cell phones are for, right? But somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be quite enough to turn around Microsoft’s and Ask’s online fortunes.

What do you think? Are you surprised by the proportion of online advertising social networks have grabbed? Do you think social network advertising is worth it? Can it help Microsoft and Ask?

  • PS3

    Some interesting figures, I’d be even more keen to see the same comparison fo UK, Europe etc. I imagine MySpace won’t be quite as high in the least (but could be totally wrong).

  • I have never thought of this but very impressive to me and 1/5 of online advertising goes to social networks
    .-= Tinh´s last blog ..Hãy Bình Chọn Cho Mr. Twitter và Ms Twitter Việt Nam Tại Vòng Loại Khu Vực =-.

  • V.C

    I think advertising in social networks is a very good idea.
    Instead of traditional advertisement like Google Adwords or Yahoo Publisher, social networks is a new and a good way to get traffic effectively.
    .-= V.C´s last blog ..Ryan Kwanten vs. Jon Gosselin: Who’d You Prefer? =-.

  • What’s interesting to me is that despite Facebook apparently running so many ads I can’t recall seeing one in all the time I’ve used Facebook in the past year. They may be serving a lot of impressions but are they really get any return on it?
    .-= Adi @ The Management Blog´s last blog ..Government ‘backs young Britain’ to gain skills in recession =-.

  • Those stats register ad impressions, does that mean it´s the number of clicks that ad had?
    How easy ppl is clicking or avoiding click ads on Facebook? (despite how tricky banners / buttons have become)

  • Jordan,

    With all due respect, I think the statistic is misleading and not all that impressive. Social media demands CPM’s of less than 10% of what branded content sites demand. So that 20% is probably only a few percent of actual value. Also, it’s not clear that search is included.

    There are some good reasons for this. See:

    – Greg
    .-= Greg Satell´s last blog ..Digital Media’s Secret Weapon for Winning Ad Budgets (Why so Secret?) =-.

  • I’m not surprised in the least that social media has grabbed so much of online advertising, though a little at who is advertising there as you also noted. I’m not sure if it’s completely worth it though – i don’t think i’ve clicked through one add on facebook in the last year because the targeting is a bit out – the ad’s that seem to crop up (for me, anyway) are completely irrelevant
    .-= Luci´s last blog ..How Modern Language Is Changing What Is Classed As ‘English’ And How This Affects Your SEO. =-.

  • Corey

    I do not find these figures to be really that surprising. The reason being that social media is the buzz word and companies with big budget usually jump from buzz to buzz.

    In my experience, social media marketing can pay dividends, but what is hard for some companies is quantifying those efforts are hard. The reason being that many marketing initiatives on social media are not always driving for a online conversion. So other tracking medias need to be deployed and tracked which some of these companies really do not. So is it worth it? I would say yes, however I would not be concentrating all my efforts in these channels unless it is my target demographic.

    Finally, a big issue to tackle in these channels is how to you attract people to your marketing efforts. The issues that come into play is for an ad based model at least most of these channels are media and visually rich. So to draw people in, you are competing with a lot of other process and page elements that are shouting for attention.

  • Not surprised by the percentage of ads being SM is the latest “thing” but… I would love to know how effective those ads are and what about conversions? Seems the only ones benefiting from these ads are the social sites — not the advertisers. I pretty much don’t even notice ads and find the same from those I’ve talked to about the subject. So we can place the ads — but now the question becomes how do you actually get clicks and conversions from placing ads on social media sites…
    .-= Judith´s last blog ..Social Media Friends: Are they really friends? =-.

  • Really interesting, I didn’t know some of the networks above, But I think I will explore them.