Facebook makes progress in Japan

02 July 2012

TOKYO: Facebook, the social network, has seen user numbers in Japan double over the last year, but uptake remains slower than in many other major markets around the world.

Figures from Nielsen Netratings, the insights provider, revealed the amount of consumers logging on to this site through a computer hit 17.2m in May 2012, an increase from 14.8m month on month.

Moreover, this total constituted a huge expansion on the 8.2m people engaging in the same activity during May 2011, measured against 13m at the start of 2012.

"Facebook didn't have a lot of traction in Japan for the longest time," Arvind Rajan, Asia Pacific managing director for LinkedIn, said. "They really did turn the corner."

In terms of penetration among the Japanese internet audience, Facebook has now achieved an uptake of 29.1%, a lift from 24.4% the previous month, and 13.4% a year ago.

However, this level of reach does lag considerably behind the comparative returns from Brazil, on 77.9%, and the US, which is Facebook's home market, on 67.2%.

James Kondo, country manager for Twitter in Japan, argued the social networking category "is a developing thing." "We're not in a flat market where everyone is competing for a share of a fixed pie," he added.

More positively for Facebook, the study pointed to the fact that it only had a 19.3% penetration in Brazil in November 2009, with Orkut on 74%. By May 2012, these scores stood at 77.9% and 39.2% respectively.

Such a trend might also be underway in South Korea, where Facebook use has grown from 2.6% in November 2009 to 39.3% in May 2012. Cyworld, the domestic sector leader, has experienced a decline from 71.1% to 54% in this period.

As an additional sign of potentially rising interest, the number of entries for Facebook on Yahoo's main search platform in Japan came in at almost 1.7m in May, versus 1.2m a month earlier.

Similarly, Google's search service in Japan saw an improvement from around 1.3m searches to more than 1.5m on this metric.

Searches on Yahoo Japan's news service also roughly doubled to 1.2m. Nielsen Netratings suggested this may have reflected the fact investors were looking for information relating to Facebook's IPO.

Data sourced from Nielsen/Tech in Asia; additional content by Warc staff