It looks like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is achieving his long-term objective of getting the world’s population on Facebook — and getting more viewers for its advertisers in the process.
Facebook’s first-quarter earnings nearly tripled to $1.5 billion, or 52 cents a diluted share, from $509 million, or 18 cents, a year earlier. That was driven by a 51.9 percent increase in revenues for the quarter, to $5.4 billion, the vast majority of which comes from advertising.
Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg shared that more than three million businesses use Facebook advertising products, while more than 200,000 businesses advertise on Instagram, every month.
The company logged 1.09 billion daily active users in March, an increase of 16 percent from a year earlier. And those users are on the go. Sandberg said 82 percent of its advertising revenues came from mobile ads. This is thanks in both supply, meaning more users, and demand, meaning more marketers are coming to the platform and are increasing their ad spend.
Focusing on its mobile experience, growing the number of marketers using Facebook advertising and making ads more relevant and effective were the three tenants that Sandberg continued to emphasize; these reflected comments she made in the previous quarter.
“Consumers have shifted to mobile,” she said, while acknowledging that marketers have struggled to keep up. “Figuring out mobile is like figuring out TV in its early days, but it’s not if but how to market on mobile.”
Facebook users are also increasingly interested in video, thanks in part to the ease of capturing and sharing videos on mobile devices, compared to desktop computers. Zuckerberg called this the “golden age of online video,” and that the Live and 360 videos allows people to interact in new ways.
Sandberg said people are sharing and creating three times more video now than they did a year ago, marking big opportunity for marketers. She said Facebook has learned that users watch videos differently on mobile than they do on TV — often soundless with text overlay — and Facebook is working to help marketers optimize video ads.
Finally, Zuckerberg also briefly addressed the recent announcement that businesses will be able to interact with customers using Messenger, and shared his thoughts on if — and how — Facebook users will make the shift from primarily interacting with friends to communicating with businesses.
He explained to investors that Facebook typically starts with a person-to-person interface, then creates organic activity around public entities such as businesses, public figures and athletes. And now, he said, that interaction will be facilitated through bots. “People are already messaging pages and business directly,” he said, “and bots can decrease the amount of time you have to wait until you get a reply.” Thanks to that decrease in latency he said, people are encouraged to interact more.
“Facebook has been built by a series of bold moves, and we see more bold moves ahead of us than behind us,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re focused on our 10-year road map to give everyone in the world the power to share anything they want with anyone.”