Age Demos Rise at Social Network Sites

NEW YORK As top social networking sites mature and become more popular, their visitor age profiles are also on the rise. More than 50 percent of all MySpace users are now over the age of 35, according to ComScore Media Metrix.

That represents a sharp increase from 39 percent over 35 a year ago. The increase came at the expense of 12-17 year olds, whose attendance on the most popular social networking site was halved to 12 percent.

MySpace’s audience quadrupled in the past year, and it still gained visitors in all demographic groups.

The data is unlikely to represent the actual regular user bases of the site, however. ComScore records unique audience participation, counting each “visit” equally, rather than quantifying users who make multiple visits.

“What this speaks to is the broadness of the reach at this point,” said Andrew Lipsman, a ComScore analyst. He said the research firm would likely investigate the frequency of usage by various age groups in a follow-on report.

Thanks to its closed registration process, Facebook’s demographic profile remained stable, per ComScore, with 48 percent of the site’s audience in the under-25 demo. By comparison, the same age group makes up 30 percent of MySpace’s audience and 21 percent of the overall Web community.

Facebook’s younger-skewing audience will be put to the test with its new open-registration policy, which lets anyone use the site, rather than only those in colleges, high schools and with certain work affiliations.

Mike Murphy, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, does not necessarily believe that’s the case; last week, said he did not expect a major change in the site’s user profile, since the new policy is more likely to attract friends of existing young users. He said the “majority” of Facebook users are 18-24.

The gap between visitors and users is evident in Facebook’s figures. ComScore reports its total audience topped 14.7 million, even though the service has registered only 9.5 million members.