Facebook's US Ad Revenues Outpace Users' Average Daily Time Spent on the Site - eMarketer
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Facebook's US Ad Revenues Outpace Users' Average Daily Time Spent on the Site

Facebook bucks trend of digital ad dollars lagging time spent with digital media

September 18, 2014 | Media Buying

US adults will spend an average of 21 minutes each day on Facebook in 2014, according to new figures from eMarketer—its first-ever analysis of daily time spent on the social network. Those 21 minutes account for one-third of the time US adults spend each day on social networks, 6.0% of time they spend with digital devices and 2.8% of average daily time spent with all media. Average time spent per day with all major media among US adults will increase by 21 minutes from 2013, according to eMarketer, totaling 12 hours, 28 minutes in 2014.

Average Time Spent per Day with Facebook by US Adults, 2010-2014 (minutes and % of social network, digital and total media time spent)

An average of 21 minutes spent per day on Facebook may seem small, but that figure is averaged across the entire adult population, and only 52.8% of US adults—or 129.5 million people—will log in to or access Facebook at least once per month in 2014, according to the latest eMarketer estimates. Among adult Facebook users, average time spent per day on the network is 39 minutes, accounting for 38.1% of their daily time spent on social networks.

Average Time Spent per Day with Facebook by US Facebook Users, 2010-2014 (minutes and % of social network time spent)

While 6.0% of US adults’ digital media time is spent on Facebook, nearly 10% of US digital ad spending flows to the site, which is in direct contrast to all other digital media we track. Nearly half of major media time each day will be on digital devices in 2014, or 5 hours, 46 minutes, yet only 30.5% of total major media ad spending will go toward digital channels.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day with Select Media by US Adults vs. US Ad Spending Share, 2014 (% of total)

Looking at various activities within the digital landscape, time spent generally outpaces ad spending across the board. Video will take 15.9% of adults’ digital time in 2014, compared with 11.7% of advertisers’ spending. Online radio programming will grab 11.2% of US adults’ time spent on digital devices and 4.0% share of digital advertising. Subtracting Facebook, other social networks will own 11.9% of US adults’ digital time, but only 3.9% of digital ad revenues.

Comparing time spent and ad spending on Facebook site to site (or app to app, as the case often is), eMarketer’s forecast also broke out time spent with Pandora for the first time. In 2014, US adults will spend 7.1% of their daily time listening to Pandora, according to our figures. That’s not a misprint: For the average US adult, daily time spent with Pandora exceeds daily time spent on Facebook. However, advertisers will only allocate 1.4% of their digital ad dollars to Pandora, a fraction of what they devote to Facebook.

Share of Average Time Spent per Day with Select Digital Media Activities by US Adults vs. US Digital Ad Spending Share, 2014

Several factors contribute to Facebook’s unusual position in the digital environment. For example, Pandora is often on in the background, and users can tune out the ads or simply not hear them. Similarly, while digital video is an engrossing activity, viewers can easily ignore or skip ads, and targeting the right viewers is still challenging for marketers in the nascent medium. On the other hand, Facebook users’ attention is likely to be closely focused on content, where interspersed ads are not so easily ignored (even if users prefer they could be). In addition, Facebook has worked very hard to convince advertisers its audience, customer data and targeting capabilities are the best advertisers can buy, which has contributed to its trending ahead of the market.

eMarketer’s estimates of time spent with media include all time spent within each medium, regardless of multitasking. For example, consumers who spend a half hour looking at Facebook while listening to Pandora would be counted as spending a half hour on Facebook and an additional half hour on Pandora. Such multitasking helps to contribute to the significant amount of time people spend with media each day. Our study took into account more than 500 data points collected from over 70 research institutions including audience measurement companies, industry associations, academic institutions, major online media platforms and other research firms with various methodologies ranging from online surveys, in-person interviews, phone surveys and meter tracking—all of which were analyzed to account for discrepancies and convergence in definitions, methodology and historical accuracy.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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