Facebook earnings: Company must keep pace with mobile, ad growth


SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address during the Facebook f8 conference on September 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)
July 24, 2013

Facebook is set to report earnings after the bell on Wednesday, and analysts are again looking for improvement in the social network’s mobile growth and ad revenue.

That’s familiar territory for those who’ve been paying attention to Facebook’s big challenge over the past year, and the company has made steady gains in both areas. But this past quarter has brought some interesting developments that Faceboook investors will be eager to hear about in monitoring Facebook’s progress.

The social network impressed analysts in May when it reported that its mobile advertising revenue has grown from zero in May 2012 to more than one-third of the company’s revenue last quarter. Since then, Facebook has taken steps to make its advertising products easier to use, announcing a streamlining effort in June and saying it would eventually cut the number of ad products it offered by more than half.

The change came in response to feedback from advertisers on its site, the company said in a blog post.

“One point we heard loud and clear is that we need to simplify our product offering,” Fidji Simo, a product manager at Facebook, wrote last month.

Advertisers were pleased by the announcement. A report from Spruce Media, a marketing agency that focuses on Facebook ads, said that the changes should make it easier to advertisers to find success on the network. While the results of the effort won’t show up fully in this quarter’s report, analysts will be listening for progress updates on how the updated ad formats have been doing so far.

There should also be interest in Facebook’s plans to offer video ads. The company also announced in June that it would be adding 15-second videos to its Instagram service, about the perfect length for a short advertisement, many have noted. While the social network has not given any details about its foray into video advertisements, Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia said in an analyst’s note Monday that the new feature lays the groundwork for video ads moving forward.

Mobile platforms will be a big player in this earnings report, as analysts will be looking for steady growth. Reaching users on their smartphones and tablets has been a major focus for Facebook, which reported last quarter that it had 751 million monthly mobile users — a 54 percent increase from the previous year. It will be important for the company to keep up that pace of growth, assuring investors that the network can reach its users on the devices they use the most.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect to see Facebook report earnings per share of 14 cents on $1.62 billion in revenue, up from 12 cents per share on $1.18 billion in revenue from the same period last year.

By mid-morning Wednesday, Facebook stocks were selling at $26.16 per share, up 0.1 percent.

(Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.)

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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