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Facebook Vs. YouTube: Which Site Has More U.S. Visitors?
Measuring Internet traffic is a notoriously slippery science. So when I read a headline that YouTube has passed Facebook as the largest social network in the United States, I took it with a dose of skepticism.
Then I checked it out. And while time didn’t permit a definitive study, I can report that the unique visitor battle between Facebook and YouTube is far from settled. Yes, they each report more than 1 billion active users globally. But who the leader is domestically depends on whose data you query.
(I’ll leave aside for the moment the question of whether YouTube is a true social network. It certainly has social features, but it’s main function is as a user-generated content hub).
As ReelSEO first reported, data from analytics provider Compete shows YouTube slipping past Facebook in U.S. total unique visitors — 167.8 million to 166.4 million — for the month of June. Compete’s data is drawn from a panel of 2 million U.S. users who agree to have their Internet behavior tracked.
June wasn’t the first time that Compete showed a lead for YouTube — it also had an advantage of 54,000 in November of 2013 — but the 1.3 million current spread is quite convincing. Here’s a chart of Compete’s numbers for the last six months:
Facebook Still Leads According To ComScore
To get a second opinion, I checked in with comScore. The story was quite different, showing Facebook with 200.4 million unique visitors in June, 1.7 million more than YouTube.
According to comScore, Facebook has been steadily gaining on YouTube for the past year, actually trailing the video site in unique U.S. visits until pulling ahead in February. Here’s a chart with comScore data for the last six months:
Some of the difference might be explained by mobile traffic.
ComScore, which collects its data from a user panel similar to Compete supplemented by census figures from online publishers, provided me with figures for mobile and desktop uniques showing YouTube with a large desktop advantage and Facebook with an even larger mobile advantage. In June, comScore shows Facebook with nearly 28 million more mobile uniques.
I emailed Compete to ask how its data accounts for mobile traffic and will update if they respond.