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Updated with Comscore data, at the bottom of the article

So AOL bought Bebo earlier today, but what did it really buy? A lot of traffic in the UK and in former British Commonwealth countries like New Zealand, but not so much in the US.

(See our earlier story for a lot more background on the deal.)

But Bebo’s traffic seems to be generally leveling off, along with traffic at market leaders Facebook and MySpace. Perhaps all of the large social networks have fully tapped their core audiences and aren’t creating reasons for others to join? Remember that smaller, more narrowly focused social networks are still growing fast, at least in the US, according to analytics firm Compete (our coverage).

Here are the latest traffic numbers on Bebo from web analytics firm Hitwise. Graphs first, bulleted data points second.

  • Bebo ranked 4th among a custom category of 55 social networks, after MySpace, Facebook and MyYearbook for Feb-08, receiving 1.15% of all US visits to the category.
  • MySpace’s share of US Internet visits was 67 times larger compared with Bebo, and Facebook’s share of US Internet visits (among all categories) was 11 time that of Bebo in Feb-08.
  • Bebo’s share of US Internet visits is down year on year. Share of US Internet visits (among All Categories) to Bebo were down 23% last week and down 22% in Feb-08.
  • The average time spent on Bebo in Feb-08, was 30 minutes and 26 seconds, more than both MySpace (30m, 7s) and Facebook (21m, 0s). The average time spent on the site is flat year-over-year; MySpace is slightly down and Facebook is up 69%.
  • 22.15% of US visits to Bebo last week came from MySpace.
  • Of’s total upstream traffic in Feb-08, 17.37% consisted of new visitors and 82.63% consisted of returning visitors.
  • In the UK, Bebo is the most searched-for brand (ahead of eBay and Facebook) and has enormous brand equity.

Update: Comscore’s take on Bebo:

  • In January 2008, Bebo had 22.4 million unique visitors worldwide, with visitors averaging more than 3 hours and 30 minutes on the site during the month.
  • In February 2008, Bebo had 4.8 million unique U.S. visitors, with visitors averaging 1 hour and 40 minutes on the site during the month.
  • In January 2008, 60 percent of Bebo’s traffic came from Europe, followed by North America with 22 percent and Asia-Pacific with 16 percent.
  • In January 2008, there were 11.4 million unique visitors from the United Kingdom to Bebo, representing the largest proportion of the site’s worldwide traffic.

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