Mighty Facebook dominates UK ad distribution

According to researchers ComScore it does anyway, delivering 19.7bn ads to its huge user base in May 2010, up from 11.8bn the year before.

This is almost four times as many as second-placed Microsoft, followed in turn by Google, eBay and Yahoo.

Biggest advertisers were Virgin Group, Telefonica and Quick Credit Score, which is not exactly a blue chip list although both Procter & Gamble and Unilever have said they plan to put more into social network sites, aka Facebook.

This comes at the same time as media buyer ZenithOptimedia has revised its world ad growth figures for 2010 up from 2.2 per cent to 3.5 per cent with surprisingly good news for the likes of UK newspapers which are forecast to grow advertising by nearly ten per cent, admittedly from an utterly dire 2009.

These forecasts are notoriously yo-yo-like and could easily start heading back in the opposite direction if the world economy takes a turn for the worse. There are already rather excitable predictions of a double-dip recession in the US and surprisingly strong ad growth in Western Europe could easily be derailed by fiscal tightening from panicky governments.

UK chancellor George Osborne’s slash and burn approach to the Government’s debt in the UK will therefore provoke a conflict of opinion in newspaper companies in the UK.

His right wing cheerleaders on the editorial floors of the Sun, The Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail may find themselves at odds with the management who will be praying this mini-boom lasts. Perhaps they could sack all the leader writers?

At The Times they will also be mulling the first numbers of emerge (from Experian Hitwise) about the impact of the paywall introduced in May to The Times and Sunday Times.

In the week beforehand when readers were invited to register, readers fell by 58 per cent, which must have prompted a bout of bowel-clenching. Immediately after they fell by a further 33 per cent which would have provoked the reaction, ‘it could have been worse.’

Well we’ll see. What we can all bank on is that the mighty Facebook will continue to add users and deliver almost unquantifiable numbers of ads to its fans who may, however, tire of these interruptions.

It’s not a bad problem to have though.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.