Blog Post

Google Winning Sign-In War, But Facebook Close Behind

Most website users still prefer logging in with a Google (s goog) account, but Facebook is a close second, according to new data from Janrain, a Portland startup whose software plugin makes it easy for websites to offer multiple login methods. The company’s latest survey looked at statistics from more than 250,000 websites and services that use its software, and found that close to 40 percent of users prefer to sign in with a Google ID, while 24 percent chose to login with their Facebook profile. Yahoo (s yhoo) came in third with 14 percent of sign-ins, while Twitter and Microsoft’s Windows Live (s msft) were tied at 5 percent.

It’s not all that surprising to see Facebook and Google ahead of Twitter, since much larger numbers of people use the social network and various Google services than are likely on Twitter, but it’s interesting that Microsoft’s Windows Live — which has been around for years, and was designed to be a single sign-on solution for the web long before Facebook came along — has such a tiny proportion of login activity, at least according to Janrain’s data (meanwhile, MySpace, AOL (s aol) and LinkedIn are lumped together in the “other” category). The company said that the stats have not shown much change from April, when it last looked at its overall login data.

It’s worth noting that the numbers reported by Janrain are substantially different from those recently provided by Gigya, another service that offers multiple logins for websites. Gigya found that Facebook was the number one login method at all of the sites it covers, with 46 percent of logins, while Google came a distant second with 18 percent. It’s not clear how many websites or services Gigya’s data was based on, or what explains the discrepancies between the two surveys.

Janrain also broke down logins based on the type of website or service users were logging into as well, and that data shows Yahoo in the lead with 34 percent of logins to news and media-related sites, and Facebook in second place with 28 percent. Google comes in third with 25 percent, and AOL has 10 percent — which may seem like a large number, but isn’t that surprising given the fact that it is closely tied to the media properties of former parent company Time Warner (s twx) (Gigya, meanwhile, found that Twitter was the number one login method at news sites, with 45 percent of sign-ins, while Facebook came second with 25 percent).

Janrain said that its data showed Facebook well in the lead when it comes to logins for music-related sites, with 55 percent of sign-ins, while Twitter was second with 18 percent. Facebook was also the number one login method for websites involving retail brands, Janrain’s study showed, with 45 percent of logins. Yahoo was in second place with 23 percent and Google came third with 21 percent. Facebook was also the number one choice for logging in to European websites, the company said — it had 39 percent of sign-ins, with Google coming in second at 26 percent and Twitter at 12 percent.

The company’s numbers also showed that Facebook is the leading service when it comes to sharing links to websites, thanks to its ubiquitous “like” buttons, with 53 percent of users choosing to share their activity on the social network — but Twitter is a strong second place with 37 percent.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d): Will Games Help Google Figure Out How to Be Social?

4 Responses to “Google Winning Sign-In War, But Facebook Close Behind”

  1. AndyDandy

    I was looking for an alternative to Janrain, so I looked at Gigya.
    The example login doesn’t work, anyway I’ve noticed why their stats are so low for Google: most of the sample site using their service do not give Google as an option!
    Other times instead of Google, there is Google Buzz, that is much less known.

  2. Janrain supports a wide range of providers and protocols to ensure our customers are able to fully leverage the social networks and identity providers preferred by their end-users for both logging into the site and promoting the site’s content across their social networks.

    While we have been a leader in developing the open source OpenID libraries and building the ecosystem, we focus on blending technologies, protocols and services from multiple providers to create the most benefit and value for our customers.

    When Janrain Engage (formerly RPX) launched in 2008 it supported Facebook Connect (non-OpenID) and Windows Live ID (proprietary). As other networks have become available such as Twitter (OAuth) and LinkedIn (OAuth), we have included them in the Janrain Engage platform. Google and Yahoo have both enabled a hybrid of OpenID and OAuth that we support as well.

  3. You raise a good point on the difference between Gigya’s numbers and Janrain’s. For Gigya, signing in to a site is a means to an end; as a social optimization platform, we promote the value of working with OAuth identity providers that provide value beyond identity. We advise our clients to promote the identity providers who can also provide a large source of social referral traffic, who can provide supplemental profile data, and who can provide the social graph data that is a key part of creating engaging community features. As a result, it’s natural that our data reflects a greater number of authentications through OAuth providers.

    Up until recently, Google has been an OpenID provider. Janrain’s roots are in OpenID. Now that Google enables OAuth access to Google Buzz, we expect to see an increase in Google identity use over time. Today, when it comes to driving referral traffic and building community, the social networks are still dominant.

    • I agree in the dominance of the social networks. With so much information to filter through it makes it terribly difficult for most people to know where to turn, thus relying on friendly advice is the way to go.

      However, search engines are still the go to for quick and easy info and results. I don’t expect that will change anytime soon, and foresee a long and level coexistence between social media networks and search engines.