Mark Zuckerberg Facebook

In the face of intense scrutiny and heavy criticism by both the public and Congress over its data-handling policies, Facebook still managed to beat expectations in the first quarter.

For the three-month period ending March 31, Facebook’s first earnings report post-Cambridge Analytica revealed total revenue of $11.97 billion, which makes for a gain of 49 percent compared to last year. The jump brought in $4.99 billion in net income, up from $3.06 billion a year ago.

“Despite facing important challenges, our community and business are off to a strong start in 2018,” said chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg. “More than 2.2 billion people now use Facebook every month. And more than 1.4 billion people use it every day. Our business grew 49 percent year-over-year to $12 billion.”

The results certainly validate the social network’s decision to double down on video content and active viewership — as opposed to passive video consumption — to boost its mobile advertising business. But more than that, they answered growing questions about how Facebook’s bottom line would hold up, given the bad press over the company’s approach to consumer privacy.

Clearly, it held up fine.

“It was a great quarter for our business,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “[First-quarter] ad revenue grew 50 percent year-over-year, global ad revenue was $10.7 billion, up 60 percent from last year and contributed approximately 91 percent of total ad revenue.”

Contrary to bad press over outraged people fleeing the platform, daily active users actually grew, reaching 1.45 billion for a growth of 13 percent compared with last year, though much of that came from user growth in India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Monthly active users were up 260 million, for a 13 percent increase over last year.

The next few quarters could offer even more meaningful indicators for Facebook’s future, as it prepares for Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation compliance.

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