News / Economy

Facebook's Next Growth Engines Still Warming Up

People walk past graphic on a wall at Facebook headquarters, Menlo Park, California, Jan. 29, 2013.
People walk past graphic on a wall at Facebook headquarters, Menlo Park, California, Jan. 29, 2013.
Facebook Inc. has a message for Wall Street: Don't expect new revenue streams anytime soon.

The world's No. 1 Internet social network delivered its strongest revenue growth in several years during the first quarter, as its mobile ad business gained steam.

But even as Facebook gave investors the good news, buoying its stock by roughly 3 percent in after-hours trading, the company made it clear that other money-making efforts such as video ads and ads within its Instagram photo-sharing app would not bear fruit in the near future.

“That will probably be the most disappointing statement to come out of the call,” said Macquarie Research analyst Ben Schachter. “Many folks were anticipating a next leg of growth.”

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told analysts on a conference call on Wednesday that Instagram ads, video ads and a nascent mobile ad network were all still in experimental phases and that none of them would make a meaningful contribution to revenue in 2014.

That may dash the hopes of some investors, who had expected Instagram to start generating revenue two years after Facebook acquired it for $1 billion.

“We're very focused on consumer growth, and we move slowly and deliberately in monetization,” Sandberg said, referring to the limited number of ads on Instagram. “We don't see the need or the urge to ramp this as quickly as we possibly can.”

Facebook is also going slow with auto-play video ads. Facebook said earlier this year it would allow a small group of advertisers to display 15-second video ads on Facebook, but Sandberg said on Wednesday the company was still gaging users' response and was in no hurry to open the service up broadly to advertisers.

The comments are likely to cause financial analysts and investors to re-appraise Facebook's near-term prospects. In notes to investors released prior to Wednesday's earnings report, Morgan Stanley estimated that video ads could contribute $900 million to Facebook's top line this year, while Cowen & Co targeted $1 billion in video ad revenue.

Shares of Facebook remained up in after hours trading, even after the company warned that its advertising revenue growth would slow throughout the year, as it faces tougher year-on-year comparisons.

Investors are willing to give Facebook some leeway, given its strong performance building the mobile ad business, said Macquarie's Schacther.

“They've earned the benefit of the doubt, that even if it doesn't come this quarter, or the next quarter, that it will come,” he said of the company's additional revenue opportunities.


Facebook's newsfeed ads, which inject paid marketing messages straight into a user's stream of news and content, have ignited Facebook's revenue growth and bolstered its stock price during the past year. The ads are ideally suited for the smaller-sized screens of smartphones and other mobile devices.

Facebook said mobile ads contributed 59 percent of its ad revenue in the first quarter, up from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook's overall revenue grew 72 percent year-on-year to $2.5 billion in the first quarter, above the $2.36 billion expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Facebook's first-quarter results underscore how far the company has come since its rocky 2012 initial public offering, when concerns about slowing revenue growth cut its stock price in half. At the time, investors questioned Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's commitment to the financial side of the business, spooked by the hoodie-wearing founder's comments about that Facebook does not build services to make money, but rather that it makes money to build better services.

Many of the key investor concerns about Facebook's ability to transition its ad business to mobile phones and a perception that consumers were cutting back their time on the social network have been dispelled, said FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi.

He noted the proportion of Facebook users who access the site daily increased to nearly 63 percent in the first quarter, up from 61.5 percent at the end of 2013.

“If you look at user growth, engagement rates and monetization, the three key levers of value, Facebook delivered on all three,” he said.

While Seyrafi said he believed Instagram has the potential to turn into a near-term money-maker, he said he was not concerned by Facebook's comments.

“All these things are new shoots of growth for the company,” Seyrafi said. “But I think that they want to deliver first and report it afterwards, rather than guiding beforehand.”



You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies


Rates may not be current.