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Facebook delivers on mobile growth

Warwick Ashford

Facebook has delivered growth in the crucial mobile market in the first quarter of 2013 with mobile advertising representing 30% of advertising revenue, up from 23% in the preceding quarter.

Investors in the social networking site were looking for continued strong growth in mobile revenues, as most users now access the social networking site using mobile devices.

Since Facebook’s disastrous IPO in May 2012, founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly stated that serving mobile users and advertisers is Facebook’s top priority.

In April 2013, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said smartphones may become more important for advertising than television.

In the first quarter, Facebook mobile active users were up 54% year-on-year at 751 million.

Daily active Facebook users were 665 million on average for March 2013, an increase of 26% year-on-year. There were 1.11 billion monthly active Facebook users as of March 31 2013, an increase of 23% year-on-year.

Total advertising revenue for the quarter was $1.25bn, up 43% from the same period ago and representing 85% of the quarter’s revenue of $1.46bn, up 38% on the first quarter of 2012 and more than 1% above analysts’ expectations.

Net income was $219m, up 7% compared with the same period a year ago while capital expenditures for the quarter were $327m, a 28% decrease from the first quarter of 2012.

Cash and marketable securities were $9.5bn at the end of the first quarter of 2013.

"We've made a lot of progress in the first few months of the year," said Mark Zuckerberg.

“We have seen strong growth and engagement across our community and launched several exciting products.”

The social networking company said highlights included the launch of Facebook Home, its new software for Google Android smartphones, designed to turn handsets into "Facebook phones".

Facebook also launched new advertising products such as Lookalike Audiences, Managed Custom Audiences and Partner Categories, which help marketers improve their targeting capabilities.

Facebook announced partnerships with Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai to enable more targeted ads. The social media site enhanced the ability to measure advertiser returns on digital media through the acquisition of the Atlas Advertising Suite.

In a call with analysts, Zuckerberg said there were three main parts to the Facebook’s strategy.

“Build the best mobile product, build a platform with new services that leverage the social graph, and build a strong monetisation engine,” Zuckerberg said.

Facebook also reported that its chief accounting officer, David Spillane, is to leave the company on 10 May 2013, to be replaced by current revenue controller Jas Athwal.

Spillane made news in November when he was one of the Facebook executives to sell off millions of dollars worth of stock.

He sold 256,000 shares then, more than half of his vested shares, for $5.4m. In January, he sold 60,000 shares for $1.6m, according to the Business Insider.

As of April 15, he still owned about 160,000 shares, according to documents filed with the SEC.

Facebook said Spillane tendered his resignation on 25 April and gave no reason for his departure.


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