Google+ is a ‘virtual ghost town,’ study finds


Google+ is a "virtual ghost town," a new study by the research firm comScore has found, with users spending just minutes a month on the social networking site compared with Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. 

While Google+ has garnered 90 million users since it launched last June, those users spent just 3.3 minutes on the site in January, down from 5.1 minutes in November and 4.8 minutes in December, Reuters reported

By comparison, Facebook’s 845 million users were on its site for about 7.5 hours in January, up from about 7 in December, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Even MySpace, which has 63 million visitors, is "stickier" than Google+, with users clocking almost three times as much time on the site, Reuters reported.

"Nobody wants another social network right now," Brian Solis, an analyst at social-media advisory firm Altimeter Group, told the Wall Street Journal. "Google hasn't communicated what the value of Google+ is." 

More from GlobalPost: Google privacy overhaul 'fails to meet EU rules'

However, Google+ supporters argue that the site is not meant to compete directly with Facebook. 

"Unlike Facebook, Google+ was not designed as a destination site," Charles Cooper wrote in a piece on CNet defending Google's social network. "Rather, it's another service on top of the company's other offerings. As a poster (on Google+) noted, what we're talking about is a layer of social in between all the other things that Google touches." 

"We're growing by every metric we care about, " Bradley Horowitz, a Google vice president of product management, told the Wall Street Journal. A Google spokeswoman said comScore's data is "dramatically lower" than Google's internal data.

More from GlobalPost: Top India CEO warns of slowdown

"The reality that Google+ is much more than a destination site makes it exceedingly hard for any third-party research firm to monitor or measure its performance," a Google spokeswoman said, according to Reuters. "Google thinks about the service not as a site but as a deepening of its relationship to billions of existing users who are already committed to Google's services like Search, YouTube, Android, etc. By this measure, engagement is already enormous."

Google is also gaining on Facebook, which filed for an initial public offering earlier this month, in one area: display advertising. Google will account for 19.8 percent of the industry by next year, Bloomberg reported, generating $3.68 billion in ad sales, according to EMarketer, and Facebook will have 17.7 percent, or $3.29 billion. Google, the world's most popular search engine, is benefiting from its connections to major advertisers, according to Bloomberg. 

Google has come under fire recently for its new privacy overhaul, which plans to follow the activities of users and merge personal data across a range of its services, including YouTube, Gmail, its social network Google+ and search engines. 

More from GlobalPost: Google faces backlash over changes to privacy settings

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.