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Is Zynga Running Out of People to Acquire on the Facebook Platform?

I’m knee-deep in last minute preparation for this week’s Social Gaming Summit. It should be great and I hope you’ll be there to join us. I was spending some time on AppData and was struck by something – I thought it warranted a quick blog post of my own. I was also inspired by something I saw over at Gamezebo (hat tip to Joel):

No matter how you slice it, Zynga has to find a major growth channel off the Facebook platform if they are to continue their meteoric rise. It has nothing to do with Facebook Credits – you can fix economic problems. The real problem is growth. I did some quick and dirty nu

*Estimated Global Facebook Audience = 400 million people per month via Facebook’s press page

*Zynga Audience (non de-duplicated) according to AppData = 247 million people per month

Those are high level numbers. We need to make a few assumptions. In November 2009, Zynga had a blog post that said they had 200 million non de-duplicated people across the network 100 million on a de-duplicated basis. In other words, it’s a 2:1 ratio. Let’s assume that ratio still holds today in rough terms.

We also need to make another assumption. Not every one of those 400 million people on Facebook are truly active or actually interact with applications at all. The truly casual user and the user who does not interact with applications don’t really count. Facebook’s own statistics suggest that 50% of people are active on a daily basis. I’m going to make a simplifying assumption that 70% of the Facebook audience is the addressable audience for Zynga – the 50% daily users clearly engage with Facebook enough to be acquired and there must be another chunk (I’ll put that chunk at 20%) who log in regularly but not daily.

So what does the new math suggest?

*Addressable audience on Facebook = 400 million * 70% = 280 million people
*Zynga audience = 247 million people * 50% = 124 million people

The good news is that Zynga has not yet reached 50% penetration. The bad news is that this simple model suggests that they’re at least getting close. If they want to grow, I think they’re wisely looking to things beyond the Facebook platform to spur that growth.

Feel free to leave thoughts in the comments below. And challenge the math if you see fit to do so. And if you like this stuff, follow me on Twitter (@chudson).