December isn’t only the time for an abundance of holiday research – it’s also the month for end-of-year lists. Nielsen is in on the action with its “Tops of 2013: Digital” lists, revealing the top US web brands, online video brands and smartphone applications. The data is based on averages from January through October, and the results indicate a growing shift towards mobile activity. And when it comes to the top mobile apps, Facebook and Google are dominant, accounting for 7 of the top 10.
Facebook ranked as the top smartphone app among adult iOS and Android smartphone owners, with an average of more than 100 million unique users per month, up 27% year-over-year. Facebook also ranks atop the list of apps by comScore’s determinations. While comScore puts Instagram in the 10th spot (at least during the 3-month period ending in October), Nielsen has it in 7th. More importantly, perhaps, is its growth rate, pegged at 66% year-over-year, making it the fastest-growing top 10 app of the year, edging Apple Maps (64% year-over-year growth).
Google Search took the second spot behind Facebook, with a monthly average of roughly 76 million unique visitors, slightly ahead of Google Play (73.7 million), YouTube (72 million) and Google Maps (68.6 million). With Gmail boasting an average of 64.4 million unique visitors per month, Google ended up with 5 of the year’s top 10 smartphone apps.
Turning to the top US web brands of the year based on desktop counts, Nielsen has Google in the top position, with an average monthly unique audience totaling 164.8 million, ahead of Facebook (134.9 million) and Yahoo (129.8 million). Given that the rankings are based on 10-month average, it’s unclear whether or not Nielsen currently has Yahoo ahead of Google as comScore has in recent months. Also worth noting is that YouTube gets a separate count from Nielsen, coming in 5th with 83 million unique visitors, while MSN/WindowsLive/Bing (121 million) and Microsoft (83 million) also get separate treatment.
Finally, in the online video space, it continues to be YouTube and everyone else. With an average of 128.4 million monthly unique viewers, YouTube is leaps and bounds ahead of its closest competitors, VEVO (37.2 million) and Yahoo (35.4 million).
Interestingly, each of the top 10 web brands and 5 of the top 10 online video brands saw declines in unique audiences year-over-year, signaling a shift from desktop to mobile activity. By contrast, each of the top 10 applications saw double-digit year-over-year growth.