how much is a unique user worth?

Posted on March 18, 2010

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Internet sites love to brag about their unique visitors. The more unique visitors, their story goes, the more the site is worth.

As if.

The value of a site’s uniques depends entirely on what the site does. Specifically, it depends on how the uniques are monetized.

The chart below illustrates the value of a unique for several different types of web properties. Not surprisingly, Google’s uniques (search) are the most valuable: $18 of revenue per monthly unique per year.  Facebook’s uniques (social networking), meanwhile, are worth a paltry $3.50.  Twitter’s uniques are worth almost nothing.

To estimate these numbers, we took the full year revenue for 2009 for each of the companies below (owned-and-operated sites only) and divided them by their average monthly worldwide uniques. The bottom line: Search gets the most per visitor, then display, and then social.

Specifically, Google gets $18.44 per unique, AOL (thanks to its subscription business) gets $12, Yahoo gets $6, Microsoft $4.42, Facebook $3.09, and Twitter $0.62.

chart of the day, revenue per unique visitor, google, aol,  twitter, facebook
artilce here
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