Facebook was third for online video in July 2011

Facebook took third place in US online video rankings last month, behind Google sites and Vevo.

180 million US Internet users watched online video content in July 2011 for an average of 18.5 hours per viewer. The total US Internet audience engaged in a record 6.9 billion viewing sessions last month.

While Facebook dominates in the online photo space, the company only took third place in US online video properties, ranked by unique video viewers, according to comScore. The social network saw 51.4 million unique viewers experience 186.4 million viewing sessions for an average of 17.9 minutes per viewer.

Google sites, driven primarily by YouTube, ranked as the top online video content property with 158.1 million unique viewers. Vevo captured second place with 62.1 million viewers. Still, Facebook is ahead of two giants that have historically done well in video: Microsoft and Yahoo.

Earlier this year, Facebook was in sixth place. It hasn't been moving steadily forward though: its move to third place has been a very jumpy one. In fact, the social network has actually been in second place before: back in August 2010.

The race for second place currently is a very close one: only Google has had nothing to worry about since it is so far ahead in first place. Even if Facebook manages to grab silver, and keep it, it still has to figure out how to aim for gold.

One could argue that Facebook doesn't need to unseat YouTube, and I would be inclined to agree. On the other hand, it sure wouldn't hurt to close the gap. After all, Google is making sure to leverage YouTube in its new social network. Users can watch YouTube videos together in Google+ Hangouts, and the search giant is making a point to advertise this fact on YouTube.

Palo Alto needs to make online video more exciting (read: more social) for users on its website than what Mountain View currently has with YouTube. It also should seriously consider helping out movie studios trying to push their offerings on the service (see links below). Facebook doesn't need to kill YouTube; it just needs to more fiercely compete with it.

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