Facebook takes U.S. lead in display ad impressions in Q1

Marketers in the U.S. significantly increased their spending on online display ads in the first quarter, as social networking leader Facebook served up the most impressions of this type of ad, according to comScore.

Display ad impressions rose 15% in the first quarter, year-on-year, to 1.1 trillion and spending on this ad format totaled $2.7 billion, or $2.48 per thousand impressions (CPM).

Facebook nabbed a 16.2% share of impressions, edging former leader Yahoo, which grabbed 12.1% of the total. This represents quite a change from 2009's first quarter, when Yahoo had a 13% share and Facebook ranked third with 7.5%.

Yahoo has traditionally been the market leader in display advertising, an ad format that includes static banners and rich media ads and that generates a major portion of the company's revenue.

Yahoo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment regarding comScore's findings, although it's safe to assume that Yahoo executives can't be thrilled to see Facebook serving up so many more display ads, which are central to Yahoo's financial well-being.

Microsoft finished third in this year's first quarter, with 5.5%, up from 4.6% in last year's first quarter. Fox Interactive Media, which includes MySpace, saw its share tumble from 11.6% in 2009's first quarter to 4.9%. AOL finished fifth and its share also fell, from 6.3% to 2.9%. Neither MySpace nor AOL immediately responded to requests for comment.

Ranking sixth with 2.4% was Google, which has been trying furiously for years to beef up its display ad business and diversify its revenue stream, which depends overwhelmingly on pay-per-click text search ads.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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