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Facebook results unpacked

Over 1.59 billion people now use Facebook each month and 90% of users do so via mobile devices.

Over 1.59 billion people now use Facebook each month and 90% of users do so via mobile devices.

Facebook's earnings, announced this week, surpassed all expectations, with a 52% jump in quarterly revenue as it sold more ads targeted at mobile users.

Key figures included the fact that more than 1.59 billion people now use Facebook each month and 1.04 billion do so each day. And 90% of the people who use Facebook access the network via mobile devices.

Speaking about its other applications, Facebook said last year, picture-sharing social network Instagram hit 400 million monthly users, Messenger now has over 800 million users, and WhatsApp ended the year with nearly one billion monthly active users.

"There are several highly significant numbers," says World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck. "The most significant number is WhatsApp reaching a billion monthly active users. This emphasises the reach of the service and its potential to become an alternative communications platform.

"It is little wonder the mobile operators feel threatened by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, but also emphasises why they should stop fighting it: they are dealing with an inexorable force that will grow their data customer base, and should embrace it."

Huge revenue

Facebook's total revenue grew by 52% year-over-year to over $5.84 billion, and advertising revenue grew by 57% to reach more than $5.63 billion (up over $2 billion from last year).

Brian Neilson, director at BMI-TechKnowledge, says this surprised everyone and, "indicates Facebook's ability to monetise. Facebook is playing catch up in this regard, having initially lagged others like Google in leveraging (monetising) their massive user base."

Touching on the local over-the-top (OTT) debate, Neilson says: "The massive success of the big global OTT players is a double-edged sword for smaller countries, like South Africa, as it signals a concentration of market power in the hands of a few giant companies, effectively leaving less opportunity for local players, which tend to be more niched."

Facebook says it will prioritise, within its ad network, the shift to mobile, growing the number of marketers and making ads more relevant and effective.

The company says Facebook and Instagram are its two most important mobile advertising platforms. Last year, 98 of the top 100 advertisers on Facebook also advertised on Instagram.

Mobile attention

The results showed most people (90%) access Facebook via mobile.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested video is next to get the Facebook treatment.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has suggested video is next to get the Facebook treatment.

"Facebook has evolved into an important PR and marketing communication platform for businesses of all sizes. For many small companies, it is also their primary Web presence (using a Facebook profile for their company rather than, or in addition to, a traditional Web site)," says Neilson.

This means marketers, for big and small businesses, who use the social network as a tool, need to focus on how their audiences are viewing their content.

"Facebook on mobile is challenging for marketers, as there is less real estate for advertising messages, and the media and marketing industry will have to learn to refine and trim down its messaging. It's like a visual equivalent to marketing on Twitter," says Goldstuck.

Video star

The social network announced 100 million hours of video are now being watched daily on Facebook. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was, "exploring ways to give people a dedicated place on Facebook for when they just want to watch videos". This suggests the company is looking at creating an application similar to rival YouTube.

"We have seen video view increase dramatically and this shows how much people want to watch rather than read," says Liron Segev, CEO of Swift Consulting.

"Video is the future and Facebook knows it. With videos come the ads and this is where Facebook will make money. We are more likely to watch a video that someone in our Facebook community shared than stumbling on a cool video online. The ‘sharing' of video and other content is what makes Facebook powerful and adding video to that is not only exciting but the future."

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