Within the social networking sphere, MySpace's dominance is uncontested with fully 79.9 percent of the total number of visits. The next biggest network is Facebook (7.5 percent share), followed by Xanga (3.8 percent).
But these kinds of rankings don't always tell the whole story, according to Jon Gibs, Nielsen//NetRatings director of media analytics. Nielsen//NetRatings figures for individuals' average monthly visits to various sites show a surprising range of repeat visits, from a high of 63.9 visits for del.icio.us, to 31.2 for Flickr, to a surprisingly low 19.1 for MySpace; those wide swings suggest varying degrees of engagement, Gibs said.
And, though MySpace is enormously popular now, social network functionality is rapidly spreading to other popular sites, Gibs noted, citing for example efforts by WashingtonPost.com to establish discussion forums and user-generated content capabilities.
Steve Ustaris, group media director for Carat Fusion, who has directed advertising campaigns on MySpace, agreed with Gibs' prediction. "The lesson of MySpace is obviously that people enjoy stuff that's centered around them--but by the same token there's only so much user-generated content that you want to look at on the Internet," Ustaris remarked. "I think you're going to see Yahoo and MSN investing more and more in the tools to make your 'virtual you' on the Internet--but also with a lot of other things that people want, that MySpace might not have." Ustaris pointed to RSS feeds, personal finance, and workplace functionality as possible additional elements.
Yahoo late Tuesday said that its network of sites taken together still surpass MySpace in popularity. Citing statistics from comScore, Yahoo said that when all of the company's domains--including Yahoo Mail, the Yahoo home page and others--are combined, the company draws the largest audience share on the Web.