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Facebook is losing its grip on users’ attention

Facebook is losing its grip on users’ attention

Facebook is losing its grip on users’ attention Rob Price Sep. 11, 2018, 1:30 PM 0 facebook linkedin twitter email print Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, which is seeing declining usage, according to new research. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images The amount of time people are spending on Facebook is dropping. Compared to a year ago, time…


Facebook is losing its grip on users’ attention

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, which is seeing declining usage, according to new research. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • The amount of time people are spending on Facebook is dropping.
  • Compared to a year ago, time spent on the social network has fallen by almost 7%, according to an analysis of new Nielsen data.
  • Meanwhile, Google is eating into Facebook’s share of the total time people spend consuming digital media.

Facebook’s grip on people’s time and attention is slipping.

The amount of time people are spending on the Silicon Valley company’s main social network has dropped by almost 7% from a year ago, according to new data from research firm Nielsen that was highlighted in a recent research note by Pivotal’s Brian Wieser. Although users are spending more time with Facebook-owned Instagram, it didn’t make up for the decline in usage of Facebook’s primary service.

“Overall, including Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook’s share of digital consumption was at 15.2% vs. 16.9% in the year-ago period,” Wieser wrote in his note.

Facebook will have around a 23% share of US digital ad revenue this year, he said, noting that percentage is significantly higher than its share of users’ time.

“To the extent that Facebook continues to hold a share of consumption at around 15%, it implies Facebook is over-monetizing vs. the industry to a significant degree.”

The Nielsen data wasn’t the only bad news for Facebook. A new study of teens by Common Sense Media cited by Axios found that only 15% of those aged 13 to 17 said their “go-to social site” was Facebook. In 2012, it was the go-to site for 68% of that age group.

Such statistics indicate how consumers are increasingly turning away from the world’s largest social network in favor of its competitors, underscoring the challenges facing the firm as it attempts to rebound from a series of bruising scandals.  

While Facebook is declining, Google is gaining

The Nielsen data offered an additional worrisome detail for Facebook. Over the last two years, its share of digital content consumption across all its apps has dwindled from just under 20% to around 15%. By contrast, archrival Google, buoyed by YouTube, has grown markedly — from less than 25% two year ago to almost 35% today.

digital consumption share pivotal facebook september 2018Pivotal Research Group

Instagram was a bright spot for Facebook in the new Nielsen data. The amount of time consumers spent on its service jumped 38% over the last year, and it saw a 15% gain in users. Facebook, by contrast, saw a much more modest 3.5% increase in users.

But as Wieser pointed out, because Instagram is so much smaller and less mature than Facebook, it can’t offset all of the bigger service’s losses.

“Instagram still only captures time from consumers equivalent to around 15% of Facebook’s total,” he said.

Facebook’s decline comes against a backdrop of scandals and shifts in direction. Battered from the fallout from everything from Russian misinformation campaigns to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company is trying to emphasise the quality of the time users spend on its service rather than the amount of time they spend.

But the extent to which this change in emphasis has affected usage of Facebook’s services is unclear. Nielsen’s data indicates the decline in usage dates to as early as 2016, long before the company started de-prioritizing the amount of time users spent on its apps and site.

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