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Social Login Trends Across the Web Q1 2014

By Michael Olson | Posted on April 22, 2014

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This quarter’s highlights:

  • Google’s social login popularity continues to increase, ascending to its most popular level in 3.5 years
  • Facebook maintains a strong advantage across most industry segments, including media, entertainment, retail and consumer brands
  • Yahoo enjoyed a moderate resurgence in consumer popularity, coupled with revenue gains during Q1

Q1 2014 login preferences

During the past five years, the ability to use a social network or email identity has become the de facto standard method of registration and login on the web. In fact, 90% of people have encountered social login before, and more than half of people use it. Because it makes the account creation and login process so much faster and easier and eliminates the need to remember yet another username and password, it’s no surprise that social login has become so popular.

For more than four years, Janrain has published quarterly reports to shed light on consumer preferences for social login, with data aggregated from the websites that use Janrain. The social media landscape is fragmented, and we all use different social networks for distinct purposes, whether to interact with friends and family, project our professional identity or follow influencers. The key takeaway, above all else, is that people want choice. There is not a single identity to rule them all.

Q1 2014 Login Trends

While its share decreased from 45% to 42% during Q1 2014, Facebook maintains its long-standing lead as the most popular choice for social login. Q1 2014 also saw Google continue to rise in popularity. With 38% share of all social logins, Google has gradually continued to close the gap on Facebook for the past six consecutive quarters. Its popularity is at its highest level in three and half years.

What accounts for this rise in popularity? The continued emergence of Google+ certainly plays a role. In addition, Google has made a strategic push to unify each of its services (Gmail, Google+, YouTube, Drive, Android, Play, to name a few) under a single Google identity. Consumers are using a single Google identity to access each of these services, which may have a positive impact on the value and equity they place in that identity. Social login preferences tend to closely reflect these consumer affinities, and as services become stickier for consumers, the identity used to access those services tends to follow suit.

Yahoo also experienced its largest single quarter increase in preference in four years, with its share jumping 1.5%. As Yahoo seeks to evolve its business model and create new revenue streams to build off of its Q1 success, its share of social logins improved 1.5% during Q1 2014. This success may be coupled with a renewed vision toward promoting its own identity and growing consumer affinity for the company through rich media content. With Yahoo’s recent decision to remove the ability to access Yahoo services using your Facebook or Google identity, we look forward to seeing whether its share of social logins will continue to trend in a positive direction.

Despite the perception that this could be a two-horse race, it is important to point out just how much consumer preference differs across the world as well as on certain types of sites. In Russia, VK is one of the most popular social networks and is a common choice for social login. In Brazil and India, Orkut is a popular selection. In China, networks such as Sina Weibo, Renren, Tencent Weibo and QQ are popular. In Japan, many choose Mixi. More recently-supported identity providers for Janrain, such as Amazon and Instagram, earn anywhere from 10-25% share of social logins on many sites that have enabled it, and as more Janrain customers begin to support them, we expect these services to factor into the conversation more prominently.

As with prior analyses, we have taken a sampling of sites in six industry verticals to measure trends in consumer login preferences.

Media

Retail

Consumer Brands

Entertainment

Music

B2B

Facebook and Google held their form as the two most popular choices across most of the industry segments sampled, respectively. Some notable changes:

  • On B2B sites, Google actually overtook Facebook and LinkedIn as the most popular choice by consumers for the first time, but its lead in this segment remains narrow.
  • Facebook extended its wide lead on entertainment and gaming sites at the expense of Twitter, with its share improving from 63% to 66%.
  • Google’s share increased within the retail segment during Q1 2014, with its share improving from 23% to 26%. As services such as Google Play become more prominently used for app and media purchases, consumers may increasingly associate their Google identity with eCommerce and become more comfortable with using their Google identity in the context of purchasing products on retail sites and apps.

What do these findings mean for your business? As you think of ways to improve registration conversion and know your customer, social login can play a major role:

For Marketers:

Social login helps solve the challenge of how to collect more accurate customer profile data without sacrificing customer acquisition rates. Social login accelerates the registration process to a single click and gives you instant permission-based access to rich demographic and psychographic data about your customers. This social profile data can be utilized to improve your segmentation, personalization and targeting efforts.

For Developers and Technologists:

It can be a big headache to implement the plumbing to each social network API on your own. These networks use different protocols under the hood, such as OpenID, OpenID Connect, OAuth, and proprietary technologies. As a result, coding social login on your own can require a significant investment of time, engineering expertise and ongoing maintenance as the networks change their APIs, in some instances without much advanced notice. Your social login and sharing solution should allow you to easily integrate multiple social networks by writing once to a single API. By cutting deployment times from weeks or months to a couple days, you can focus on your core competency while trusting that the social login technology implemented on your site will always just work, without the hassle.

We hope these findings provide a useful benchmark for you!

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About the author

Michael Olson

Senior Product Marketing Manager

Michael Olson joined Janrain more than five and a half years ago and has experienced the explosive growth of the digital marketing technology landscape. Previously, he managed demand generation programs at Janrain. Currently, as the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Michael drives go-to-market strategy for product launches as well as positioning and messaging to communicate the value of customer profile management solutions to companies. Michael's writing has been featured in publications such as GigaOM, Adotas and iMedia Connection.

View all posts by Michael Olson