Google vs. Facebook – Really?

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There was some interesting news on Mashable yesterday:

People Spend 3x More Time on Facebook Than Google – Mashable: Back in July, we reported that Facebook had become the Internet’s ultimate time waster, with users spending an average of 4 hours, 39 minutes on it per month, more than any other site on the Web….

This certainly is an interesting statistic, but makes sense when you think about what people do on each of the sites (which the Mashable article does go into a bit).  Google’s job (at least as far as search) is to present you with search results as fast as possible.  They actually want you to leave their site as quickly as possible (meaning you’ve found what you’re looking for, or at least something intriguing).  Facebook, on the other hand, is a social network.  People go there to converse with friends and family (and waste a lot of time), so it’s not really surprising that people spend so much more time there than Google.

Google has purchased many different sites, such as YouTube, to help them increase their share of eye time.  They also provide a service, Google AdSense, which extends their ads to content sites.  When you take a look at Mashable’s statistics and add YouTube into Google’s numbers, the gap closes.  People are still spending more time on Facebook, but now it’s only twice as much.  But YouTube videos can be embeded in Facebook (and elsewhere) – how do you count that interaction time?

Obviously this brings up bigger questions in terms of how you measure where (and how) people are spending their time.  And Facebook and Google are competing on some level, since they both sell ads.  But, I think that when you see numbers like this, you need to stop and think about what they mean and just what’s being measured.

What do you think?

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