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This year, Americans will spend more than half of their social networking time on Facebook, according to eMarketer’s latest forecast of time spent with media. Going forward, however, growing competition from other social networks will make it increasingly challenging for Facebook to significantly grow engagement time.
In the forecast, eMarketer researched specific online activities of Americans ages 18 and over, who use each medium at least once per month. Average time spent with each includes all time with that medium, regardless of multi-tasking.
In 2016, US adults will spend an average of 22 minutes a day on Facebook. By comparison, they will spend an average of 43 minutes a day on social networks in general. By 2018, US adults will be spending three more minutes each day on social networks, but just one additional minute on Facebook. Between 2013 and 2018, time spent on social networks as a whole will grow 5.9%, while time spent with Facebook will grow 5.3%—meaning Facebook lags slightly behind the category in growth in usage time.
When it comes to time spent, Facebook owes all of its growth to mobile. This year, US adults will spend an average of 16 minutes a day on Facebook via mobile phones and tablets, compared with just 6 minutes on desktops and laptops. In fact, user engagement on desktops and laptops has been declining steadily. Between 2013 and 2018, mobile time spent on Facebook will grow 12.9%, whereas desktop and laptop time spent on Facebook will decline 7.5%.
“Facebook continues to see increases in time spent on mobile largely due to increased engagement with video,” says eMarketer forecasting analyst Monica Peart. “Of course, Facebook has also been facing competition from other fast-growing social networks like Snapchat, and cannibalization from its own property, Instagram. With other social networks investing heavily in making video a core feature of their platforms, their collective time spent will begin to challenge that of Facebook.”
As a result of Facebook’s strong engagement on mobile, advertisers are allocating more dollars to mobile Facebook than to desktop or laptop. This year, Facebook will receive $0.19 in ad revenue per hour spent by adults using the site on desktops and laptops. It will receive $0.35 per hour spent per adult on mobile.
Mobile is also driving growth of time spent with social networks in general. More specifically, smartphones are leading mobile social engagement. In 2016, US adults will spend an average of 21 minutes a day using social networks on smartphones, with that figure expected to grow each year for the next two years. Conversely, US adults will spend just nine minutes a day on social tablet apps, with that figure remaining unchanged for the next two years.
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