Facebook Reports Best Ad Quarter In Two Years, Says Apple Now Among Its 'Biggest Competitors'

Facebook delivered its best ad revenue quarter in more than two years. Total ad revenues rose 31% over the fourth quarter of 2019, its strongest gains since the third quarter of 2018.

The company attributed the increased demand to a strong holiday shopping season, as well as the “ongoing shift” of retail to ecommerce and performance marketing strategies.

The company, however, warned of a “moderation or reversal” of the positive advertising trends going forward, and also cited Apple as one of its greatest threats, not just the consumer technology company’s new user identity protocols -- and how they might impact the efficacy of Facebook’s ad targeting -- but in a more general sense.

“We increasingly see Apple as one of our biggest competitors,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s earnings call with analysts and investors, explicitly signaling out Appel’s iMessage messaging platform as “a key linchpin of their ecosystem.

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“It comes pre-installed on every iPhone and they've preferenced it with private APIs and permissions, which is why iMessage is the most used messaging service in the U.S.”

Zuckerberg asserted Apple is leveraging the market power of its messaging dominance to gain “share in apps and services against us and other developers.

“Apple has every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do to preference their own,” Zuckerberg continued, concluding with Facebook’s anti-Apple campaign rhetoric that it is hurting smaller brands.

“This impacts the growth of millions of businesses around the world, including with the upcoming iOS14 changes, many small businesses will no longer be able to reach their customers with targeted ads,” he asserted. “Apple may say that they're doing this to help people, but the four moves clearly track their competitive interests. I think this dynamic is important for people to understand because we and others are going to be up against this for the foreseeable future.”

5 comments about "Facebook Reports Best Ad Quarter In Two Years, Says Apple Now Among Its 'Biggest Competitors'".
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  1. Carl Spaulding from NCSolutions, January 28, 2021 at 3:25 p.m.

    Hi, Joe -- Is the chart from BMO Capital Markets backwards?  From the FB earnings call for Q3: "In Q3, the total number of ad impressions served across our services increased 35% and the average price per ad decreased 9%."   

    You say the opposite in your article above "Despite a 9% decrease in the supply of its advertising impressions, Facebook delivered its best ad revenue quarter in more than two years, thanks to strong demand from premium advertisers and a surge in its average ad prices (+35%)"

    From the FB Q4 earnings call this week: "In Q4, the total number of ad impressions served across our services increased 25% and the average price per ad increased 5%."  

    The BMO Capital Markets graph shows this the other way around.

  2. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, January 28, 2021 at 4:04 p.m.

    @Carl Spaulding: The data in that chart was indeed transposed. Thanks for catching it. We have updated the chart and the article to reflect it, and will run a correction. 

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, January 28, 2021 at 4:43 p.m.

    There is a delicious irony in the (joyful?) reporting that FB reported a +35% surge in ad impressions, while there is still public angst as to too many ads on television.

    Maybe people 'accept' ads more on mobiles (and PCs/tablets) than TVs.   Maybe people ignore them more producing less angst.   Maybe mobile advertising will overtake TV as the most-objected to advertising.   Maybe I'm wrong.

  4. Michael Abramson from Dominant Trait replied, January 29, 2021 at 9:31 a.m.

    Also, I think that is Q3 '20 and not Q4

  5. Joe Mandese from MediaPost, January 29, 2021 at 10 a.m.

    @Michael Abramson: Also correct. The Q4 #s are +25% and +5% respectively. Updating again. Thanks for the additional catch.

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