Nearly three-quarters of Facebook’s advertising revenue now comes from mobile ads, as many more users access the social network on smartphones and other hand-held gadgets.
On that front, the company is doing fine – better, even, than it has in previous quarters. But the rate of its overall revenue growth slowed in the first three months of this year, and Wednesday marked the first time since early 2013 that Facebook failed to top Wall Street’s expectations with its results. Shares of the Menlo Park, California, company fell more than 1 percent in trading Thursday morning.
Facebook has grown mobile-ad revenue steadily since 2012, when it started showing ads for the devices’ smaller screens. In the previous quarter, mobile represented 69 percent of total advertising revenue.
The social network had 1.44 billion monthly active users as of March, up 13 percent from a year earlier. The number of users who accessed Facebook on mobile devices at least once a month grew 24 percent to 1.25 billion.
Facebook’s share of the $42.6 billion worldwide mobile-advertising market was 17.4 percent last year, according to research firm eMarketer, up from 16.4 percent a year earlier. In comparison, Google’s share was 38.2 percent, down from 46 percent a year earlier.
The company reported adjusted earnings of 42 cents per share in the January-March quarter, above the 41 cents per share that analysts polled by FactSet had expected. Revenue increased 46 percent to $3.54 billion, from $2.5 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $3.56 billion.
Net income declined, as Facebook’s expenses grew 83 percent from a year earlier. The company earned $512 million, or 18 cents per share, down 20 percent from $642 million, or 25 cents per share.
Facebook, which bought the popular photo-sharing app Instagram and the messaging service WhatsApp, has been coming out with its own stand-alone mobile apps to capture more of the time people spend on phones. But most of Facebook’s home-grown efforts have had limited success.
On Wednesday, it introduced Hello, a voice-calling app designed for Android phones. In essence, it’s meant to replace the voice dialer on your phone. But based on Facebook’s inability to persuade users to install its Home app, which lets Facebook take over the home screen on Android, users may not be too keen on replacing existing smartphone tools with Facebook-branded versions.
Facebook finance chief David Wehner said mobile “continues to be a key driver” of Facebook’s growth. He said Facebook will continue to experiment with apps for mobile. For now, the money-making focus is on Facebook itself and, slowly, on popular, established apps such as Instagram.
At the close of regular-session trading Wednesday, the stock stood at $84.63, an 8.5 percent increase since the start of the year.
Shortly before noon Thursday, Facebook shares had dropped $1.09, or 1.3 percent, to $83.54.