Statistics say websites with user-generated content are the fastest growing

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Friday, September 15, 2006

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The popularity of Websites that rely on user-generated content has increased dramatically in the United Kingdom, according to new statistics. MySpace and Piczo show the strongest growth in usage year-to-year, respectively up 467% to 5.2 million visitors and 393% to 4 million. Bebo is up 328% to 3.9 million, while Wikipedia saw a 181% increase.

These sites draw more frequent visits that other non-user-generated sites in the UK Top 50, with 4.2 usage-days per month (compared to the 3.5 average). They tend to engage visitors for longer (80 minutes per visitor, compared to the 33-minute average over all), and visitors tend to view more pages per visit (217 pages per visitor, compared to 52-page average over all).

Because users of these sites visit more frequently, stay longer, and view more content, the argument goes that this creates more opportunities for marketers to communicate messages. However, in reality, as the number of pages served becomes very large, it becomes more difficult to find sufficient advertising inventory to send with those pages.

No-one yet seems to be making big margins from social networking sites. The cost of operating these sites, it turns out, is sensitive to scale. Moreover, users generate a lot of noise in promoting themselves, but there's little evidence that many of them are listening to each other — which severely restricts the site owners' ability to generate advertising services, and secure advertising revenues.