The amount of times spent of social networks has tripled in the last year, according to Nielsen (PDF). A year ago, users spent 6 percent of their online time on social networks, but as of August 2009, time spent on social networks now represents 17 percent of total internet use. “This growth suggests a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used,” said Nielsen’s Jon Gibs. “While video and text content remain central to the Web experience – the desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share is increasingly driving the medium’s growth,” Gibs said.

Even though internet advertising has been down in many online sectors, advertising on social networks and blogs has more than doubled in the last year, rising from $49 million in August 2008 to $108 million in August 2009.

Year-over-year, the percent of advertising spend aimed at social networks has increased from 6 percent to 15 percent.

“In the past, advertisers had significant concerns with social media advertising,” Gibs said. “The considerable increases we’ve seen in ad spending over the past year suggest that many of these concerns have subsided or been addressed.

“In particular, advertisers that want to connect with core fan bases, such as movie studios, are allocating more and more dollars to online communities like Facebook and MySpace, where they can engage in an ongoing dialog with their target market,” Gibs added.

The leading advertiser on social networks is the Entertainment Industry, whose spending has increased 812 percent year-over-year.

Next in line is Travel, whose advertising presence on social networks has grown 364 percent, which is interesting because overall online travel advertising has decreased by 11 percent in the last year.

While these two sectors have had the most growth in the last year, they are still not among the top advertisers on social networks: Web Media ($26,855,700), Telecommunications ($23,550,300) and Public Services ($13,203,100).

All this add spend and all I get is "Mature Singles Dating" ads on my FB profile. I need to make my data more interesting.

By Mark Alvarez