NEW YORK: Web users in the US are spending an increasing amount of time on social networking portals like Facebook and MySpace, and these properties are starting to see their advertising revenues improve as a result, figures from The Nielsen Company show.

According to Nielsen's analysis, the typical "netizen" in America spent 17% of their time online browsing social networking and blogging sites in August, compared with a total of just 6% a year ago.

Jon Gibs, vice president of media and agency insights at Nielsen's online arm, suggested this demonstrated there has been a "wholesale change in the way the internet is used."

"While video and text content remain central to the web experience – the desire of online consumers to connect, communicate and share is increasingly driving the medium's growth," he added.

In line with this trend, display adspend on several of the top social networking services more than doubled in August 2009, rising to $108 million (€73m; £67m) from just $49m in the same period in 2008.

Similarly, the research firm reported that the share of online ad revenues directed to these web domains rose from 7% to 15% on an annual basis in the eighth month of this year.

Brands in the entertainment industry increased their outlay on these Web 2.0 sites by 812%, to $10m, compared with an uptick of 40% across the web as a whole.

The travel sector similarly boosted its outlay by 364%, to $2m, with automotive up 178%, to $3.1m, healthcare by 143%, to $2.8m, and online media by 139%, to $26.9m.

Financial services registered year-on-year growth of 98%, to $6.4m, as did telecoms, up 89% to $23.6m, consumer goods, up 75% to $3.3m, and retail goods and services, up 55% to $12.6m.

MySpace was the most popular site with advertisers in the entertainment and financial services sectors, with Facebook taking this position in all of the other categories assessed by Nielsen.

Data sourced from The Nielsen Company; additional content by WARC staff