Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Facebook reports a rise in profit, users in Q1

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Grady Vargas | 26 April, 2018, 12:43

Facebook's first-quarter revenue, a major chunk of which comes from ads, jumped 49 per cent to $11.97 billion (U.S.), and profit climbed 63 per cent to almost $5 billion, according to a report released Wednesday, the first since news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March.

Advertising revenue grew 50% to US$11.80 billion when compared to the same period a year ago, while the number of daily and monthly users both grew by 13% to 1.45 billion (daily) and 2.2 billion (monthly).

Facebook's mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 91 per cent of advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2018, up from approximately 85 per cent of advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2017. But in the aggregate they have shrugged off the scandals, as have users.

Changes to the Facebook news feed to prioritise posts from family and friends were also reflected in the quarter's data - though there was no specific update provided by the company regarding the time users spend on the site.

The company added that its daily active users for the period tallied up to 1.45 billion, in line with the 1.45 billion that analysts polled by StreetAccount projected.

Facebook's approach to privacy has come under intense scrutiny over the last few weeks, following the revelation that the personal data of millions of Americans was harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook stock gained more than 4% in after-hours trading after the earnings report was released, and was up 7% following its conference call.

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Taking a tough stance against Cambridge Analytica's "unsatisfactory, cryptic and evasive" response to its first notice, the latest government notice has also asked the company to "responding fully, adequately and transparently" to the earlier queries with more details.

If users chose to restrict their data as much as possible on the platform, Ms Sandberg said it "would affect the product". "If users aren't leaving en masse, advertisers will continue to utilize the Facebook platform to sell their products and services", Haris Anwar, a senior analyst at Investing.com, said in a note before the company reported earnings.

The notice has asked about the proceedings that the social media giant has undertaken against those who have violated Facebook's policies of privacy.

"Most are disturbed at an individual level with what happened, but there's nothing that made Facebook overly toxic - yet", he said. "Facebook makes a lot of advertising money off this".

The bump in figures also testified to the resiliency of the company's targeted ad-based business model. The question for analysts will be whether the declines are truly Facebook's own design or a reflection of user preference.

Steps outlined by Zuckerberg to address these areas include restricting the data developers can access; building more artificial intelligence tools to detect and remove fake accounts ahead of elections in both the United States and Europe last year, and doubling the headcount working on security and content review to more than 20,000 by the end of this year.

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