Bebo has been the second most searched-for brand in the UK since May, measured as a share of UK internet searches by Hitwise, which specialises in online competitive intelligence.
The share of UK internet searches for Bebo has increased more than threefold in the past six months, and 17.6 per cent in the past three months.
The gap in the share of searches between eBay and Bebo was only five per cent in the four weeks to 30 September, down from 25 per cent three months ago and 80 per cent six months ago.
"Bebo's brand is benefiting from a great deal of buzz and its rise in share of UK internet searches reflects how quickly a brand can rise through viral channels," said Heather Hopkins, vice president of research at Hitwise UK.
"Of course, many traditional brand names, such as the BBC, Amazon and Tesco, are already known to consumers and would be bookmarked, so they are less likely to be the subject of searches than new brands."
Brands offering free content also showed strong gains over the past 12 months. In September 2005, retailers comprised 12 of the top 20 brands, but that number dropped to eight in September 2006, with Rightmove, Wikipedia and Google Earth joining the social sites Bebo, MySpace and YouTube.
"There is now an almost even balance between retailers and brands that support rich content through advertising," said Hopkins.
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