Facebook Surpasses Yahoo, Serving Most Ads in Q1

Facebook accounted for over 16 percent of all ads served to U.S. users during the first quarter of 2010, making it the largest online display ad publisher in the country, according to data from comScore.

The online measurement firm estimates the social network displayed 176 billion impressions during the first three months of the year. That’s considerably more than the 132 billion impressions estimated on Yahoo-owned properties, the second largest publisher in ad terms with 12.1 percent of all online ads during the quarter.

Facebook’s ad impressions have therefore grown by 52 percent versus Q4 2009, when it served around 115 billion impressions. In the same period impressions on Yahoo sites dropped from 140 billion to 132 billion, and impressions on Microsoft, Fox Interactive Media, and AOL properties also dipped, quarter-over-quarter.

Year-over-year, Facebook apparently served 100 billion more impressions in Q1 2010 than it did during Q1 2009, when it offered up just 70 billion. Andrew Lipsman, senior director, industry analysis at comScore attributed the growth to increased use of the social network more widely. “We’ve seen increases in the number of visitors to the site, and also increased intensity of use which results in more pageviews,” he said. “The increase in pageviews has been pretty consistent with the increase in ad impressions,” he continued.

Of course, the numbers reveal little about how much revenue the site is generating in comparison to sites such as those owned by Yahoo, but it does demonstrate appetite from advertisers for Facebook’s inventory. The fact that Facebook grew so dramatically while all other major display ad players lost out also suggests marketers may be directing some of their spend away from portals and towards the social networks as people spend more of their time there, and increasingly make it their first destination when spending time online.

It’s also important to note that comScore’s numbers only include ads served on properties owned by the companies mentioned, and not their related ad networks and exchanges. For example, Yahoo’s numbers will not include ads sold through their Right Media exchange, meaning its involvement in the overall display ad space will be greater than the figures here suggest.

Related reading