Microsoft’s combined offerings topped Facebook in last month’s website rankings, which are based on a Nielsen report that tracks unique audience across all web browser usage, but does not include the use of mobile apps.
Unsurprisingly, Google came out on top, while Stuff retained its lead over the Herald further down the list.
Microsoft has managed to trump Facebook after Nielsen consolidated Microsoft’s offerings into one category, which includes MSN, Outlook, Bing and Skype (previously, Skype was labelled as a separate site, according to Microsoft).
Mi9 general manager James Butcher says the change provides a more accurate reflection of the full scope of Microsoft's business in New Zealand.
November 2014 website rankings - Nielsen
This puts Microsoft's offerings at 2.5 million visitors while Facebook sits at about 2.4 million, compared to November 2014 when Microsoft was just over two million and Facebook was verging on 2.5 million unique visitors.
Microsoft's website has been ranked fifth at 1.8 million visitors compared to 2014 where it had 1.77 million.
YouTube has also moved up a rung on the list and is now the fourth most popular site with 1.82 million unique audience compared to its place of fifth in November 2014 with a ranking of 1.8 million.
Stuff is not too far behind with 1.6 million unique visitors with the Herald following close behind at 1.38 million. However, the unique audience for both has fallen from those posted in 2014. Wedged between the two competing news sites is Trade Me, which is ranked seventh with 1.6 million unique visitors and the New Zealand Government website at 1.46 million.
Infographic by Tim Newman
Asked for a possible explanation as to why Microsoft had overtaken Facebook in the latest rankings, Nielsen research director Tony Boyte said:
“ … we can verify those numbers are correct. One of the reasons why Microsoft as a brand is so large is that it includes traffic to MSN, Outlook, Bing and Skype all combined. The Skype audience has only been added to the Microsoft brand number for the first time in December hence the reason for their recent uplift.”
It's also worth noting that a significant proportion of Facebook traffic comes from browsers who have downloaded the app. And because the Nielsen report does not include this, it could have played a part in the the social media site ranking below Microsoft in the rundown.
Despite the growth in its local audience, there was speculation last year that Microsoft was planning to move its mi9 business across the ditch in 2016. Butcher has, however, reiterated that this will not be happening.
"Nothing has changed for us," he said. "We are more committed to this market than ever. We are continuing to look for new growth opportunities and are currently working on investing further in the local team and business."
This story has been updated, as the previous table for December 2015 showed ad-supported websites only. The new top 10 includes all brands.