new Nielsen study: social network use triples

Good news for online advertisers everywhere. In the past year, Americans have tripled the amount of time spent at social networking and blog sites.

A study recently released from The Nielsen Company reports that 17 percent of all time spent on the Internet in August 2009 was spent at social networking sites. This figure is up from a total of 6 percent in August 2008.

Vice president of media and agency insights for Nielsen’s online division, Jon Gibs suggests that this growth exhibits a major change in the Internet’s function. “While video and text content remain central to the Web experience – the desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share is increasingly driving the medium’s growth,” Gibs said.

The chart below, provided by The Nielsen Company, shows that despite a general decrease in online ad spending, money spent in social media advertising is climbing.

nielsen-table

According to Nielsen, online ad spending on social networks and blogs was estimated at $108 million for August 2009, a 119 percent increase over figures for August 2008.

Why are these numbers continuing to rise? It’s simple. Social networks provide a revolutionary ease for engaging with very specific audiences. Potential customers can be targeted down to their very most “private” pieces of information because people are now willingly providing this information openly on public sites.

Most importantly, marketers are able to engage in interactive conversations with users for the first time, generating more enthusiastic and energized customers. Becoming an active part of the dialogue is THE most effective way to reach audience members. To do this, you have to be present where your market enjoys spending time, and you have to talk to them in the same way they would enjoy talking to a best friend, high school crush or co-worker. Because let’s face it, not many people enjoy talking to marketers.

What’s your take on social network advertising? How accurate is this Nielsen study? How does your time spent on social networks in the month of September compare to time spent in September 2008?

Check out Nielsen’s blog for more information about the study.

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