While Facebook remains the dominant social login, Google+ has made strong gains, according to a new report from Gigya.
Social logins, which let site visitors register and log into sites and apps via a third-party social media site, reduce barriers to entry and, more importantly, let web publishers access the rich profile data held by the social network.
While Facebook and Google+ offer publishers similar profile info, Facebook's is a bit richer, according to Gigya's analysis; Facebook includes activities and interests, possibly among the most useful profile data.
Providing identity services, aka social logins, benefit social networks, according to John Elkaim, vice president of marketing for Gigya, because the sharing about user interest and activities goes both ways, allowing the provider to better tune its own service. "You can understand how people are behaving outside your web property, which is a very important thing for developing your product," he points out. "You want to understand how the whole ecosystem works. That also allows them to solve needs for their clients, serving better ads, and for users, they can engage them better with better content."
Gigya analyzed data from Q3 2013 among customers using its Connected Consumer Management Suite and found that Google+ increased its share of logins by 2 percent globally, to a total of 27 percent. While Facebook still holds a majority of logins globally, its share dipped below 50 percent in North America -- and the company says that North America tends to be a bellwether.
In Europe, Facebook held 52 percent of all social logins; Google+ was next at 19 percent; the Russian social network Vkontakte handled 13 percent; Twitter took 8 percent; and Yahoo accounted for a mere 6 percent.
Media and publisher sites were the most non-monogamous in seeking identity services. Here, Facebook handles only 44 percent of logins, while scrappy Yahoo increased its login share to 22 percent.
Elkaim thinks that a backlash against the recent revelations about NSA monitoring may benefit niche, local social networks such as Vkontakte and Orkut, which currently has a negligible login share, but is popular in Brazil. "A lot of local players can become identity providers. We think there will be a back-to-local movement and local niche networks that will expand their identity role," he says.
Google+ also ate into Facebook's share of logins for e-commerce sites, adding 5 percent in share for a total of 17 percent. PayPal accounted for 2 percent of logins. Gigya says this is the first time it's seen PayPal at more than 1 percent, and that this indicates that payment providers may move into identity provision.
Payment providers like PayPal have a strong play as digital media and commerce move to mobile, according to Elkaim, because they can not only facilitate login or registration, but also actual shopping. "Because you have a social login, I can tie it to a payment card, and you can check out with one click. We all would love that relief."
Of course, Google has long provided an online payments system, and its stewardship of the Android operating system might give it an edge in mobile payments, according to Elkaim. The question, he says, is, "Who's going to win that race? Will it be a payment provider, or someone who already owns identity, like Facebook or Google?"
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
March 19, 2014