June 16, 2006, 12:00 AM

Social networks grow big—but are still seeking ways to monetize traffic

Industry leader MySpace.com grew 230% year over year from 15.6 million unique visitors in May 2005 to 51.4 million in May this year, comScore Networks Inc. reports.

 

The relatively new phenomenon of online social networking is exhibiting the behavior that new, Internet-generated activities have exhibited from Day One of the commercialized web: super-fast acceptance and wild growth. Retailers have been particularly interested in social networking as a way to market goods and attract new customers.

Industry leader MySpace.com grew 230% year over year from 15.6 million unique visitors in May 2005 to 51.4 million in May this year, comScore Networks Inc. reports. Facebook.com, a site popular with college students, grew 102% from 6.9 million a year ago to 14 million in May. MSN Spaces sites grew 205% from 3.1 million to 9.5 million.

ComScore is working on compiling numbers for social networking as a category, but has not done so yet. It believes that the growth of the popular sites can be viewed as a stand-in for the category.

"The popularity of social networking is not expected to wane in the near future," said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of comScore Media Metrix. "This is a phenomenon we`re seeing not only in the U.S., but also around the world. The challenge for social networking sites will now be monetization and how advertisers will respond to the global marketing potential of these sites."

ComScore reports these leading sites in May, their unique visitors (in millions) last May and this May, and change from a year ago:
MySpace.com, 15.578, 51.441, 230%
Classmates.com Sites, 16.968, 14.792 -13%
Facebook.com, 6.964, 14.069, 02%
YouTube.com, N/A, 12.669, N/A
MSN Spaces, 3.140, 9.566, 205%
Xanga.com, 8.397, 7.146, -15%
Flickr.com, 0.923, 5.163, 459%
Yahoo! 360°, N/A, 4.936, N/A
LiveJournal.com, 7.394, 3.904 -47%
MyYearbook.com, N/A, 3.048, N/A
HI5.com, 2.959, 3.013, 2%
Tagged.com, 0.456, 2.078, 356%
Bebo.com, 2.013, 1.752, -13%
43things.com, N/A, 1.586, N/A
Tagworld.com, N/A, 1.293, N/A
Friendster.com, 1.269, 1.083, -15%
Linkedin.com, 0.196, 0.519, 165%
Orkut, 0.113 0.210, 85%

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