Brits spend almost a third of internet time on Google and Facebook-owned platforms

Around 28.4m days a month are cumulatively spent on Facebook-owned properties - including Instagram

The Google and Facebook duopoly is showing no signs of slowing down, with fresh research indicating almost one in every three minutes of UK internet time is spent within platforms owned by the tech giants.

British adults spend 17% of their total internet time across Google properties, including search, Gmail and YouTube. This accumulates to 42.7m days a month across the thousands of people studied, and means that more than one in every six minutes spent online in the UK is done so within Google’s walls.

Around 28.4m days a month are cumulatively spent on Facebook-owned properties including image-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp.

The figures, which come from measurement firm Verto Analytics, indicate that overall one in every three-and-a-half minutes spent online by Brits is done so on Google or Facebook-owned platforms.

The data was gathered via a nationally representative panel of thousands of UK adults, who have each consented to have all their internet activity across PCs, smartphones and tablets measured.

After Google and Facebook, Microsoft was the next most dominant company in the UK by internet time with users spending 18.3m days per-month on platforms owned by Bill Gate’s firm. Apple followed behind with 14m and the BBC – which was the only UK firm to appear on the list – accounts for 5.3m days a month overall.

Earlier this year, Zenith revealed that Google and Facebook attracted one-fifth of all global ad spend across all media in 2016. Beyond the figures, though, Hannu Verkasalo, chief executive of Verto Analytics, has argued that the latest research on the duopoly has more far-reaching consequences.

"The implications of a handful of dominant companies – particularly just two – go beyond simply which sites we surf," he said. "You have fewer sites increasingly controlling not only what you see and hear but where advertising revenue goes."

"In tandem, increasing power and wealth going into fewer hands means it’s easier to move into other business models and industries, influencing society in new ways," he added pointing to Google's move into driverless cars and Facebook’s push into AI.

Facebook has recently acknowledged that the decisions it makes as a digital player affect the way people find out about the world and communicate and receive news. As such its upping its efforts take more responsibility about its influence on the internet ecosystem and answer what it's calling 'hard questions' about where it fits into people's daily lives.

Google, meanwhile, has devised a programme for young people to turn them into better 'internet citizens'. The initiative looks to raise awareness of issues like free speech, online abuse and comment moderation.

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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