Facebook’s push into mobile helped lead it to big top- and bottom-line gains in the first quarter.

This story first appeared in the April 24, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The social media giant said Wednesday afternoon that mobile ads made up 59 percent of its overall ad revenue in the first quarter — or about $1.3 billion. That’s a substantial gain from a year earlier, when mobile accounted for about 30 percent of the overall advertising take. Total ad revenue grew 82 percent to $2.27 billion during the quarter — what chairman and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg called the company’s strongest growth rate in nearly three years on the company’s earnings call.

This led to a profit increase of 193 percent to $642 million, or 25 cents a diluted share.

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Investors liked what they saw and pushed the stock up 3.3 percent to $63.41 in after-hours trading.

Mobile has been an area of intense focus for Facebook, which recently agreed to buy mobile-messaging firm WhatsApp for $19 billion.

EMarketer projected that 65 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue would come from mobile this year, and this would jump to more than 75 percent in 2016.

On the call, Zuckerberg highlighted the potential for retailers to reach out via Facebook.

“One recent powerful example is Sport Chek, Canada’s largest sports retailer,” he said. “They recently decided to pull their paper circulars, which their company had relied on as its primary ad vehicle for 92 years, for two weeks, and replaced them completely with digital spend, a majority of which was on Facebook. During those two weeks, national in-store sales grew 12 percent year-over-year and in-store sales of the items they promoted on Facebook grew 23 percent.”

And the company’s mobile user base is continuing to grow.

Mobile daily active users averaged 609 million for the first quarter, year-over-year growth of 43 percent. Mobile monthly active users hit 1.01 billion for the first time as of March 31 — a 34 percent increase year-over-year.

“We recently reached 100 million monthly actives in India, and through this we’re looking to build on this kind of success,” Zuckerberg said of global mobile adoption rates. He added that working with mobile operators in the Philippines and Paraguay doubled the number of people using mobile data with Facebook partners in those regions.

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