Today marks Facebook’s first earnings call since it become a publicly traded company earlier this year. In the wake of its tumultuous IPO and slightly disappointing to disastrous fiscal quarters for other tech companies (Apple and Zynga, respectively), this has been one to watch.
The short story is that Facebook was able to hit its projected mark – although just barely. The company posted $1.184 billion in revenue, up 32 percent year over year, meaning it was able to meet analysts’ projections; although there are plenty of assumptions that Facebook set the bar low in order to avoid being a Wall Street disappointment in its first financial report post IPO. According to the numbers, advertising was able to hold its own with $992 million in revenue for the quarter, although the continuing popularity of accessing Facebook via smartphone has hurt this. Ads delivered increased, but ad impressions continue to grow more slowly comparatively, and that’s particularly true in the U.S. thanks to our mass mobile adoption and the percentage of Facebook Web users here. Simply put, advertising is growing – but relatively slowly.
These numbers are decent, if modest, but Wall Street responded quickly and Facebook stock fell 10 percent in after-hours trading — a drastic drop.
But active use and engagement are still there, and executives during the earnings call were quick to emphasize this. “I think what we’re seeing is pretty steady growth and engagement,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during today’s call. “Really nothing out of line with the overall metrics there.” Monthly active users increased 29 percent year over year, daily active users 32 percent year over year, and mobile monthly active users 67 percent year over year. Again, that mobile adoption is a really important number that Facebook is still trying to wrap its head around and turn into monetization without advertising overload.
One of these ways will be Sponsored Stories. COO Sheryl Sandberg said we’re going to see a big ramp up in Sponsored Stories in the News Feed and that these increased click-through rates for the network. The early data about Sponsored Stories is positive thus far, although that’s pulling from a shallow pool given that these are very new to the platform, CEO David Ebersman admits. Zuckerberg stressed the company see social ads monetizing better than non-social ads, and this is certainly a main tool of that strategy. At the moment, fewer than half of Facebook ads are social, Sandberg says, and increasing this is a major priority.
As an interesting sidenote, Zuckerberg talked a little about the Instagram acquisition. “The acquisition hasn’t closed yet, so there’s been no integration. There will be an update when that happens,” he says, so be on the lookout for some changes when the deal officially goes through. He also touched on the business of acquihiring: “Our strategy has been to buy companies for talent… [to] find those people who are building companies and working on problems where they might be better able to solve them if they joined Facebook.”
How mobile, the developer program and advertising all intersect are clearly the focus of the Facebook roadmap, so we’ll continue to see plenty of innovation and changes here in the near future.