A long-awaited milestone for Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking site finally caught up to News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace in worldwide unique visitors in April, when both sites attracted about 115 million uniques, according to comScore figures published by TechCrunch.
Big caveat: The majority of Facebook’s growth is international. Of the 75 million uniques it added in the last year, just 13 million (17%) were in the U.S., where MySpace is still twice Facebook’s size.
“There’s a real question about how valuable all these international users are from an advertising standpoint. We’ll be publishing our thoughts on that next week,” TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington writes.
We’ll save you the trouble of waiting. International growth is good for Facebook, especially in places it can grab market share ahead of MySpace, Bebo, Fotolog, or whomever. And it’s particularly good if that growth is happening in the UK. But it’s not as good as growing in the U.S..
Earlier this year, after AOL (TWX) bought Bebo, we were told that a British social network user is worth perhaps 70% as much as an American user; an informed observer guesstimates that the value may now have crept up to the 75% range. Outside of the U.K., it’s a lot less.
Our same observer — a social network vet who’s worked in and out of the U.S. — tells us that eyeballs in “Old Europe” may be worth, on average, 40% of American ones. Those numbers will vary greatly by territory, though. A back-of-the-envelope ranking of European markets, in descending order of value: Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, and Italy.
Will Old Europe — and the rest of the world — eventually catch up the U.S.? Sure. But Facebook, MySpace, and every other social net are already struggling to turn eyeballs into dollars (or even dimes) in the U.S. It’s not going to happen overseas for quite some time.