Social networking upward swing in Europe

Social network usage increased by 10.9% points in Europe last year to reach 84.4% of web users, the highest jump internationally, according to new comScore report. The report ‘2010 Europe Digital Year in Review‘ says Facebook was the top ranking site in Europe last year by the amount of time spent and was the third most-visited site by user numbers, being the top social network in 15 of the 18 countries surveyed. There is a dramatic rise in online coupon sites across Europe, a jump in display advertising last year and continued growth in the smartphone market – with the success of Google’s Android platform.

comScore reports Facebook is now only surpassed by local social networks in three European markets – the Netherlands, Poland, and Russia. Hyves was the most popular network in the Netherlands, while Nasza-klasa was the biggest network in Poland. Facebook’s reach was the lowest in Russia where it held just 18.8% of the market, behind Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and Mail.ru. Turkey had the highest Facebook penetration in Europe at 90.4%, followed by the UK with 81.7%.

As social networking becomes a more integral part of the online user experience, the presence of display advertising on social networking sites continues to grow,” comScore claims.

In the UK and France, total display ad impressions on social networking sites grew by 47% and 64%, respectively, while in Germany that number more than doubled. The increasing prevalence of social networking as a component of the display advertising landscape is an indication that advertisers cannot afford to overlook this channel given its potential to reach a large number of consumers with high engagement.”

comScore claims that social networking was a key driver of display ad growth in the UK, France and Germany. In the UK, social networks served 41.3% of all display ads during December, compared to 26.5% in France and 28.9% in Germany. In all three countries, display ads reached over 97% of internet users during the month.

Also comScore claims that the use of online coupon sites in Europe grew by 162% year on year in December to 34.9million visitors. This was largely attributed to Groupon’s rapid growth, with the site now having a presence in more than 100 European cities. Meanwhile, smartphone penetration in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy hit 31.1% of mobile users in 2010, with Android experiencing a 951% gain and Apple jumping 115%.