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eMarketer Reduces US Time Spent Estimates for Facebook and Snapchat

Instagram bucks trend—will grow by 1 minute this year

May 28, 2019 (New York, NY) — Facebook’s move last year to discourage passive consumption of content, especially videos, has impacted engagement. Average daily time spent on the platform by US adult users fell by 3 minutes in 2018. And that time will remain unchanged this year, per the latest eMarketer forecast on US time spent with media. In fact, we have reduced our forecast for Facebook compared with the previous figures released in Q3 2018.

This year, US adult Facebook users will spend an average of 38 minutes per day on the platform* (on all devices), down 2 minutes from our previous forecast. In 2020, average daily time will drop to 37 minutes.

“Facebook’s continued loss of younger adult users, along with its focus on downranking clickbait posts and videos in favor of those that create ‘time well spent,’ resulted in less daily time spent on the platform in 2018 than we had previously expected,” eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson said. “Less time spent on Facebook translates into fewer chances for marketers to reach the network’s users.”

Engagement on Snapchat, meanwhile, has essentially plateaued. Instead of growing, as we had earlier projected, time spent among users fell slightly last year because of lingering fallout from the app’s failed redesign and competition from Instagram. We now expect time spent among Snapchat’s adult users to remain at 26 minutes per day through 2021. Our previous forecast projected 28 minutes per day in 2019.

The picture is somewhat brighter at Instagram, where user time spent is still growing. Average daily time on the Facebook-owned platform will reach 27 minutes this year among US adult users. And time spent will increase by 1 minute every year through 2021. Our Instagram forecast remains unchanged from our Q3 2018 forecast.

“Features like Stories, influencer content and video are all contributing to more engagement and a slow but steady uptick in time spent on Instagram,” Williamson said.

Instagram is bucking the broader trend. Last year, after years of steady increases, the amount of time US social network users spent on platforms fell by nearly 1.5 minutes. That will remain virtually unchanged in 2019, at nearly 1 hour, 14 minutes per day.

“Gains in digital video viewing are putting pressure on social time (though multitasking behavior is mitigating some of that), and gaming is also creating new competition for user attention,” Williamson said. “Though we can’t say there is a direct cause-effect relationship, these activities do at least threaten users’ engagement with social media.”


*Time spent on Facebook does not include Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.



eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


About eMarketer
Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world. eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy. eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research, including forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally. In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.


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Global Director of Public Relations

Corinne Weir
Public Relations Coordinator

Posted on May 28, 2019.