Facebook pleased with Stories, but braces for record $3 billion fine

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 25 April 2019
Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook continues to bet on Stories, which now grab 500 million users across each of its three platforms, and a turn to private messaging for future growth, as it also prepares for a record fine and looming regulation.

The company’s Q1 earnings report showed sustained backlash against the social media platform has done little to dent its performance, with total revenue at $15.1 billion, up 26% year-on-year.

In March, advertisers launched the latest round of criticism against the platform, urging for a global boycott of Facebook until it addressed issues with its livestreaming service, which was used by the Christchurch terrorist.

Also in its earnings report, Facebook revealed a monthly active user base of 2.38 billion, up from 2.32 billion in the previous quarter. 981 million of its users are in the Asia Pacific region.

Ad revenue for Facebook was $14.9 billion, up 26% year-on-year. $2.68 billion of its ad revenue comes from the Asia Pacific region, while $7.3 billion comes from the US.

Facebook’s top bosses, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, noted the opportunity to grow Stories even further for advertisers, with Stories across Facebook and Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp each having more than 500 million daily active users.

Sandberg said while ads across Facebook and Instagram Feeds remain its core revenue producer, it expects Stories to increase.

“We are helping advertisers keep up with the shift in how people are sharing – just as we did with mobile,” Sandberg said.

“We’re proud to announce that we now have three million advertisers using Stories Ads to reach customers across Instagram, Facebook, and Messenger.”

As well as Stories, Zuckerberg also spoke about the social media giant’s plan to turn to private messaging to become not just the world’s “digital town square” but also its “digital living room”.

Following the public’s ongoing concerns around data privacy, Zuckerberg has seen pivoting to privacy as its best opportunity to grow. The new direction for the company also comes as it faces regulation around the globe, which many see as inevitable.

Facebook’s privacy issues are also costly for the business, with Zuckerberg revealing in the call to investors it expects a fine from the Federal Trade Commision to be between $3 billion to $5 billion.

It would reportedly be the biggest penalty the commission has handed down and relates to the company’s data practices dating back to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

This morning the New York Attorney General’s office revealed it’s launching an investigation into Facebook’s collection of more than a million users’ email contact database.

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