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Why Facebook and not Apple is the big story of the BrandZ Top 100 survey

Each of the last six years, Millward Brown Optimor has conducted their BrandZ survey, TheTop 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, which calculates the value of each brand according to economic and competitive dynamics. And yes, there is an app for that—a BrandZ Top 100 app, that is. 

The lead story for most major news outlets about the BrandZ survey was that Apple has finally taken over the coveted top spot from Google. According to the report, Apple is valued at $153 million while Google is "only" worth $111 million. This represented an 84% change in brand value for Apple from last year.


From my perspective, the biggest news story was that this year's list included the debut of the social media juggernaut, Facebook, in the BrandZ Top 100 list. In fact, Facebook was ranked #35, which represented an amazing 246% increase in brand value over 2010—a year they weren't even ranked in the Top 100. According to the BrandZ survey Facebook is more valuable than mainstream megabrands such as Disney (#38), American Express (#40) and Mercedes Benz (#50), all of which also showed an increase in brand value. 

The statistic shows a lot about the growing influence and affluence of Facebook. In 2009, revenues (mostly from the ads it serves) were reported to be about $800 million. Last year, ad revenues reportedly hit $1.86 billion with total revenues reaching $2B. That represents a an almost 150% increase over the year before. In fact, Facebook accounted for 5% of all online ad spend in 2010 and analysts expect that number to reach 8% in 2011. 

The rapid rise in its valuation is easy to reconcile when you see some of the Facebook member statistics that the company currently reports:

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • An average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages)
  • An average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • An average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month
  • There are more than 250 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices
  • There are more than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries working to deploy and promote Facebook mobile products 

So looking at the current statistics on Facebook it is no wonder they broke so forcefully into the BrandZ Top 100 list. Facebook controls the eyeballs of hundreds of millions of people and has set up a system that allows brands to communicate quickly via word-of-mouth (or maybe we should say word-of-post). 

The question is will they keep the momentum going? Is there a limit to Facebook's growth or is this just the tip of the iceberg? What do you think?


Kevin Duffy is the Creative Director for The Duffy Agency's Boston office.


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