Mobile ads now dominate Facebook revenue

05 Feb 2014

ITEM: Facebook is now officially a mobile business – at least statistically.

The social networking behemoth released its Q4 earnings Wednesday, with the numbers generally beating analyst expectation. The company’s ad revenue grew 76% year on year in Q4 2013, and – for the first time – mobile was responsible for the majority of it.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said during the earnings call [PDF]:

Approximately 53% of our ad revenue came from mobile. This is not only the first time we crossed the 50% threshold, but it’s also our first billion-dollar mobile quarter. In fact, our Q4 mobile ad revenue of $1.25 billion was nearly as large as our total ad revenue in Q4 of last year.

As WaPo has noted, that figure is pretty remarkable when you remember that Facebook only started selling mobile ads in 2012.

Some other mobile related stats for Q4 2013 (PDF):

  • 296 million mobile-only monthly active users (MAUs) (compared to 157 million YOY)
  • 945 million MAUs (compared to 680 million YOY)
  • 556 million mobile daily active users (compared to 374 million YOY)

Not bad for a for social network that’s supposedly dying off – that is, if you believe a number of studies in the last few months that claim teenagers are abandoning Facebook in droves, either because either they’re bored with it, or because their parents are on it.

That might be the case in the US and Europe, where those studies tend to be focused. But you wouldn’t know it from Facebook’s user numbers. While growth in monthly active users in the US/Canada and Europe is relatively modest compared to Asia and ROW (“rest of the world”), it’s still growth. If teenagers are ditching Facebook, other demographics are making up the difference.

Meanwhile, the majority of Facebook users aren’t in either of those regions – just over 60% of Facebook’s 1.2 billion MAUs come from Asia and ROW, where MAU growth has been much stronger.

So ... dying? No. Not anytime soon.

That said, as we move more to a mobile world and the Internet of Things and AI-powered apps and whatnot, Facebook will certainly have to evolve with the times to survive and stay relevant. However, Facebook has essentially been doing that since its inception ten years ago. Not everything has worked (see: Beacon, for starters). But Facebook has a history of learning (or at least recovering well) from its mistakes.

Anyway, Facebook unsurprisingly has big plans for mobile in 2014, to include developing more standalone mobile apps (following the same strategy with Messenger and Instagram) and, of course, operator partnerships, CEO/founder Mark Zuckerberg said during the earnings conference call:

In 2014, we're going to focus on achieving's mission by deepening our relationships with mobile operators around the world and working to develop new models for Internet access. Our existing partnerships with operators are something we've already invested a lot in over the years, and this is an area where we're really excited to build on going forward.

BONUS MATERIAL: If you didn’t know, Zuckerberg is headlining the keynotes at Mobile World Congress later this month.

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