Facebook’s earnings results showed the impacts of a pandemic that proved to be headwinds on its advertising business, but logged gains in monthly and daily active users.
Management also said it is in the early stages of monetizing WhatsApp.
Consolidated results Wednesday (April 29) showed that for the first quarter ending March 31, Facebook posted $17.7 billion in revenues, up 18 percent year on year and better than the $17.4 billion the Street had expected.
That growth came despite what the company termed a “significant” reduction in advertising demand and a decline in ad pricing that impacted the last three weeks of the quarter.
Management said during the call that ad impressions were up 39 percent, while pricing per ad was off 16 percent.
But data also showed that user rosters soared, which might make sense against a backdrop where so many people around the world are confined to their homes, and whose primary means of communication may be confined to laptops, phones and mobile devices. Daily active users and monthly active users for Facebook were up a respective 11 percent and 10 percent to 1.7 billion and 2.6 billion.
The company acknowledged that some of that surge may recede, upon the relaxation of shelter in place restrictions that are currently in place.
In at least some signs of stabilization, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that advertising revenues thus far into the quarter have been relatively unchanged — reflecting at least some signs of stabilization.
Drilling down a bit, Zuckerberg told analysts on a conference call that there are more than 3 billion people using the collective family of offerings spanning Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger.
The company also said that “other” revenues driven by offerings such as Oculus Virtual Reality and Portal video calling were up 80 percent.
Zuckerberg also signaled investment by the firm to “keep building” to “make up” for declines that may mark other firms’ pulling back on similar spending.
Zuckerberg told listeners that in places that have seen the most impact form the virus, messaging volume was up more than 50 percent, and video and voice calling more than doubled across Messenger and WhatsApp. By way of example, in Italy, there was 70 percent more time spent across the firm’s apps.
Overall, between WhatsApp and Messenger, there are more than 700 million “daily actives” participating in calls.
With a nod toward monetizing WhatsApp, Zuckerberg pointed to the partnership we just announced with Jio Platforms in India.
“By bringing together JioMart, which is Jio’s small business initiative to connect millions of shops across India, with WhatsApp, we think that we’re going to be able to create a much better shopping experience,” he said. He added later in the call that there is an opportunity to monetize that app, due to the fact that, in general, tens of millions of companies use WhatsApp. Generally speaking, companies have been in a push to broaden their online presence.