In June Facebook’s daily active user figure in the UK reached 24 million – more than a third of the country’s entire population. The majority (84 per cent) – of those users, visit the site daily via their mobiles. Facebook has also today (14 August) broken out other country-by-country daily active user figures for June and revealed its UK monthly active user figure reached 33 million.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Facebook regional director for the UK and Southern Europe James Quarles said several recent third party studies on the site’s user numbers have spread “misinformation” that engagement with the service was decreasing as it ages.
A report from YouGov SixthSense released in May claimed UK Facebook usage was down nine percentage points year on year in April due to user “annoyance” with increased advertising on the site, for example. Elsewhere, this weekend a post by a US 13-year-old-girl on Mashable about how none of her friends have a Facebook profile went viral.
Quarles argues the 24 million daily active user number is more than double other social networks and online publishers’ monthly active figures and even larger than the 9.5 million viewers that tuned in to watch last year’s X Factor final – a live TV event that usually demands premium ad rates.
In direct response to the Mashable post, he said the demographic makeup of Facebook’s audience “looks very much like” the overall internet population. In Facebook’s most recent earnings call, founder Mark Zuckerberg said the site has been “close to fully penetrated in the US teen demographic for a while” and the number of daily and monthly active teen users in the region had been steady for the past year and a half.
Quarles adds: “[The release of the new stats] gives us the opportunity to provide greater detail about our audience and the percentage mobile represents of our user base in the UK. There can be a tendency to see global numbers and not believe they are applicable to the UK market.”
The benefit of the daily active user figure to marketers
Facebook also hopes the release of the figures will encourage marketers and media agencies to think differently about their digital media planning to become more real-time and mobile first to reflect how consumers interact with websites on a daily, rather than monthly basis.
Quarles said he believes the new data – released just a month after the company first revealed its monthly UK mobile users in June had increased 22 per cent year on year – will encourage more UK marketers to think about mobile leading a campaign rather than being a small “end of the line” percentage of budget.
He adds: “Marketers are often scared that mobile requires a separate strategy and that mobile ads are interruptive and require different formats and buying capacity. That’s not the case with Facebook. It’s the same buy as desktop and for users, mobile messages in the news feed are easy to stream past, they don’t take over the screen like [other forms of mobile advertising].”
Rob Salmon director of digital marketing at digital agency Torchbox and IAB social media council member, says the release of Facebook’s daily active users shows it is “absolutely the biggest player in the market” despite recent headlines that suggested user migration away to competitor services.
He adds: “This is Facebook demonstrating how relevant it is despite it now being more mature and questions around its popularity. I’d love for Facebook to release these figures on a monthly basis that use the site so you can effectively track this.”
Salmon also says more information about the demographics that use the site would be useful to marketers.
Andrew Jennings, social director at Havas’ social strategy agency Socialyse, says “in an ideal world” Facebook would also release further UK data about the types of things users are doing when they log in each day and what time of day they choose to engage with the site.
“What would be interesting is to find out more about the way people interact with content, by device, for example so we can make sure the media is suitable for the device it is consumed on. In terms of planning, buying and content production, it will be interesting if it looks to develop more data on how people use Facebook, especially because they change their algorithms so much,” he adds.
New brand case studies
Alongside the daily active user numbers, Facebook has also made public brand case studies where marketers have made use of its “publishing garage” – a workshop bringing together in-house marketing teams, their media and creative agencies and Facebook – to plan mobile activity for periods of months to a year, rather than short-term campaigns, to take advantage of the site’s reach and targeting capabilities.
For example, Pepsi Max’s publishing garage earlier this year resulted in a daily publishing strategy designed to reach Millennials and keep them front of mind. The brand posted a video of magician Dynamo “levitating” alongside a London bus to the top of Facebook users’ news feeds using the News Feed Reach Block and Mobile Reach Block formats. The campaign is said to have reached 18.7 million consumers and generated a 23 per cent engagement rate with the video, at a cost of £0.04 per view.