Report: Social Networking Sites Grow 47 Percent

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Nielsen/NetRatings announced yesterday that April’s top 10 social networking sites collectively grew 47 percent year over year, increasing from an unduplicated unique audience of 46.8 million last year to 68.8 million in April 2006, reaching 45 percent of active Web users in April 2006. Nielsen also concluded that high visitor retention rates also contribute to the successful social networking sites.

“Social networking sites are the reality television of the Internet,” said Jon Gibs, senior director of media, Nielsen/NetRatings, in a press statement. “The content is relatively inexpensive for publishers to produce, and social networking is not a fad that will disappear. If anything, it will become more ingrained in mainstream sites, just as reality TV programming has become ubiquitous in network programming.”

MySpace topped the list with 38.4 million unique visitors and an astounding year-over-year growth rate of 367 percent and also held onto its users with 67 percent of all March at-home visitors returning in April. Blogger.com was number two with 18.5 million unique visitors with a growth of 80 percent year over year, followed by Classmates Online with 12.9 million unique visitors and a 10 percent year-over-year increase. Newcomer YouTube and the more established MSN Groups rounded out the top five, with 12.5 million and 10.6 million unique visitors, respectively.

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