Google’s websites had more than a billion unique visitors in May, the first time an Internet company has hit that benchmark, according to comScore data released Tuesday.
Over the past year, Google’s unique visitors per month have increased 8.4% to just over one billion. During the same period, Microsoft maintained the No. 2 position with 905 million unique visitors in May, up around 15%, while Facebook’s count surged by 30% to about 714 million visitors. In May, Yahoo saw 689 million visitors, up 10.8% over the past year, though it was surpassed by Facebook in October.
ComScore’s estimates are based on its “global measurement panel” of two million Internet users, similar to how Nielsen measures television ratings. ComScore refines the estimates with “page view” data that it receives from more than 90 of the 100 publishers of Web content, but not from Google.
A Google spokesman declined to comment.
ComScore began measuring global unique-visitor traffic on websites starting in early 2006, when it said Google had about 496 million unique visitors per month. At that time, Microsoft and its MSN search engine and content sites were No. 1 in the category, with 539 million.
Since then, Google’s search engine and Gmail email service have grabbed market share and the company bought video site YouTube, among other moves that led to its rise.
But as the battle for Internet revenue increasingly shifts from search advertising—a market Google dominates—to graphical, interactive and video ads, the unique visitor data is somewhat symbolic. Marketers are increasingly focused on the amount of time Internet users spend on a site.
In that category, Facebook has the advantage. The social network surpassed Google in November and Microsoft earlier this year in terms of the time users spent on its site, according to comScore. In May, Internet users spent 250 billion minutes on Facebook, up about 66.6% from a year earlier. Users spent 204 billion minutes on Microsoft sites, down 13.6%. Google was up 13% to about 200 billion minutes per month.
Still, in addition to selling graphical and video ads on YouTube and some of its other properties, Google is investing heavily—and seeing some success—in becoming a middleman that matches buyers and sellers of graphical and video ads, taking a cut of each transaction. [via Mashable, Daily Mail (UK) and Wall Street Journal ]