Facebook Rules in Time Spent Online

Facebook may be ranked sixth in unique visitors, but it reigns supreme in the amount of time users spend there — topping Google, Yahoo, AOL and eBay.

The social networking site checks in at a bit over 4.5 hours per person, on average, for the month of June, according to Nielsen Online’s June 2009 report.

Coming in second is Yahoo, which sees about three hours per user for the month, followed by AOL at two hours and 43 minutes, Google, with 2.5 hours and Microsoft’s sites, with two hours and 12 minutes.

No. 4 on Nielsen’s list is Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), with a monthly visit average of one hour and 19 minutes per user — nearly tied with eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY)’s one hour and 17 minutes. Amazon trails with 25 minutes.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) still dominates in overall visits, though, with 155 million Internet users visiting at least one of Google’s sites for the month of June. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) sites saw 139 million visitors during the month, while Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) came in third, with 134 million visits.

News Corp. Online — which owns MySpace, Fox, the Wall Street Journal and video site Hulu.com — checks in at 90 million visitors, beating out Facebook, eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), Apple and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) each in the number of Internet visitors for the month.

The rankings come as social networking continues to gain in popularity while the sites themselves grapple with how to make money and ensure privacy for their millions of users.

Facebook and News Corp.-owned MySpace have also been vying for the largest share of the growing social networking space. While News Corp.’s properties together may outweigh Facebook, MySpace lost the lead in the category among global users to Facebook last August. In May, Facebook topped MySpace among U.S. visitors.

While both News Corp. and Facebook have struggled to monetize their booming traffic, some observers see advertising on social sites as likely area of growth as the economy rights itself.

Facebook is also having an impact on Internet use in the UK, according to another study out today by mobile research firm CCS Insight. That study, which surveyed mobile users between 16 and 35, found that social networking is driving mobile Internet usage, with 33 percent of young adults accessing Facebook and Twitter on their phones.

The study also found that in the UK, twice as many men as women access the mobile Internet and that those surveyed expect mobile content to be free — potentially good news for ad-supported content.

“The Web is revolutionizing the way people use mobile phones,” Paolo Pescatore, head of mobile content at CCS Insight, said in a statement. “Forget music downloads and video — social networking is what people want. Media owners and operators will have to find new ways to make money from their assets.”

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