Facebook Q3 Update: More Users, Higher Revenue, Despite Ongoing Controversies
Despite questions around its stance on allowing misinformation in political ads, despite questions and court cases about its ad metrics, and the accuracy of the data it provides. Despite reports that it’s in decline, with other social apps gradually taking its place, Facebook continues to add more users, and increase its overall revenue, as outlined in its Q3 2019 update.
First off, on users – Facebook added 36 million more daily active users for the quarter, taking it to a total of 1.6 billion users logging onto the platform every day.
That’s more new users than it added in the last quarter (25m), and in line with Facebook’s ongoing DAU growth trend. It even added 2m DAU in the North American region, which it hasn’t done for a while, showing that, despite Facebook now being the elder statesman of the social media scene, it still has relevance, and it can still draw usage.
Facebook’s monthly user count, meanwhile, increased by 35 million to 2.45b actives.
It’s amazing to consider how many people that actually represents. As an example, the entire populations of the two most populous nations in the world (China and India) combined equate to just over 2.6 billion. Facebook almost matches their combined numbers – while the population of the entire world, many of whom can’t access the internet, is 7.5 billion.
Facebook’s usage is truly staggering – and as you can see here, the platform continues to gain momentum in the Asia Pacific and ‘Rest of the world’ markets.
Though, of course, total users is not the same as engaged time. As noted, many reports have suggested that people are spending less and less time on Facebook, and while the platform is still growing in terms of overall log-ins, that doesn’t necessarily equate to time spent within Facebook’s walls.
Facebook has become a key connective platform, an important element in our broader interactive process, a means to keep in touch with friends and family and stay on top of key dates and social events. But people could still be logging onto Facebook for a few minutes per day, then spending the rest of their time on Instagram, and that wouldn’t show up in these stats. So it is possible that, while Facebook’s overall user counts continue to climb, people are also, overall, spending less time on Facebook.
How relevant that is to your marketing and promotion efforts is relative to your approach, but it is worth noting that Facebook doesn’t report average time spent within its main app as a matter of course, and hasn’t provided an update on such for some time.
Earlier this year, eMarketer predicted that US Facebook users would spend 37 minutes per day, on average, on Facebook in 2020, down from 38 minutes in 2019, and 41 minutes in 2017.
In addition to its DAU and MAU stats, Facebook has also reported that around 2.2 billion people now use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger every day, and around 2.8 billion people use at least one of its “Family of services” every month.
On the revenue side, Facebook reached $17.7 billion for the quarter, up 29% year-over-year.
Note, that’s for the quarter – Facebook is on track to bring in close to $70 billion in total revenue for the year.
Remember when Facebook got fined $5 billion for its data privacy failures, and that fine seemed to be like water off a duck’s back? Yeah, this would be why. Even a huge, $5 billion fine is minuscule in relation to Facebook’s overall intake.
In terms of where, exactly, Facebook is seeing results, the company still generates most of its income in the North American market, though it’s Asia Pacific business is growing fast.
Facebook’s actually generating more income per user in every market except Europe, where the platform’s growth has been slower.
The end of year rush will likely push these results even higher, bringing Facebook to that final $70 billion revenue figure, as estimated by the market.
Facebook also notes that mobile advertising revenue equated to 94% of its overall results – up from 92% of advertising revenue in the third quarter of 2018.
While, as noted, there are issues to address, and usage stats could potentially add another element to the story, there’s no denying that Facebook has continued to solidify its position as the dominant player in the social media market. It remains a key consideration for all marketers, and a key platform for many, many users, at least in some capacity.
On the accompanying earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated Facebook’s stance on political advertising – though he did note that they will continue to examine and discuss their options on this front. This came in response to Twitter’s announcement that it would be banning all political ads.
Zuckerberg also noted that Facebook has contingencies in place if its Libra cryptocurrency fails to take flight, and a solid plan for moving forward with various new ad offerings and eCommerce tools. Shares in Facebook closed higher as a result.
While Facebook may seem to be taking a reputational hit, the numbers show that it continues to grow, and there’s little reason, at this stage, to expect any significant slow down. Even if, as noted, Facebook active usage is lower on average, there are still more and more people logging onto the platform everyday, which means more opportunities to show people ads, and pitch that reach to advertisers.
Over time, Facebook has created its own eco-system, and it’s continually learning how to adapt and improve. Given this, you can likely expect to see more growth at The Social Network as we move into the next decade.