Facebook Says It Gained 60 Million Users in the Last 3 Months

Advertising revenue up 57% in Q1

Mark Zuckerberg's congressional testimonies made one thing clear: People do not understand how Facebook works in an advertising sense. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Facebook just keeps on growing. And growing. And growing.

The social media giant added 60 million more users in the first three months of the year, according to its first-quarter earnings statement released today. That means it now has 1.65 billion monthly active users, a 15 percent increase over the first quarter of 2015.

Mobile users account for 1.51 billion of the total, a 21 percent year-over-year increase. Mobile revenue accounted for 82 percent of all ad sales, up from 73 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Facebook's advertising revenue in the first three months of 2016 totaled $5.2 billion, a 57 percent increase over the same period last year, the company said.  

It also reported total revenue of $5.4 billion and earnings of 77 cents per share, beating Wall Street estimates of $5.25 billion and 62 cents per share.

"We had a great start to the year," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. "We're focused on our 10 year roadmap to give everyone in the world the power to share anything they want with anyone."

Earlier this month, the company unveiled a 10-year road map. And with virtual reality, internet-providing drones and messaging bots, it's no secret the social network is a much different company than it was 10 years ago when it was a mere desktop social networking website for college students.

Live video continues to be a focus for Facebook, as the company puts more resources into mobile video, live video and virtual reality. On the earnings call, Zuckerberg said people have "such a deep desire" to share, and it's up to the company to build quality products. For example, he said, it's building tools to share virtual reality videos in its news feed.

"We are in the beginning of a golden age of online video," he said.

Zuckerberg has also been a big proponent of live video. In recent months, he's shown the potential it has for users to share with their friends in a way that seems more authentic than a curated feed.

"There's just so much that people want to express and share with the people around them that they don't have the tools to do today," Zuckerberg said.

And video is certainly growing. According to COO Sheryl Sandberg, people are watching three times as much of it on Facebook as they were a year ago.

According to research firm eMarketer, Facebook will continue to dominate the overall display ad category in the U.S., with the company expected to capture $10.3 billion in display ad revenue in 2016. That total accounts for about 31.2 percent of all U.S. display ad spending this year. (In 2017, eMarketer expects overall U.S. ad revenue to grow to $12.68 billion and then to $14.89 billion in 2018.)

Debra Aho Williamson, an eMarketer analyst, said Facebook's emphasis on Messenger and livestreaming illustrate its plans to put products other than the news feed on a path to monetization. 

With more and more users on a combination of Facebook products—WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger—the company is able to give a "four-way punch," said David Hewitt, mobile lead at digital agency SapientNitro.

Hewitt, who recently sold some of his Apple stock in favor of buying Facebook shares, said the brands he works with are more bullish than ever on Facebook. Marketers are increasing their overall spending on the platform while also testing out some of the new features such as messaging apps and video.

Despite all the good news, some recent reports have said users are posting fewer personal updates on Facebook. But Hewitt said that doesn't mean they're tiring of one of the oldest social networks.

"I don't think people are getting bored of Facebook," he said. "I just think Facebook is now such a staple that they see it differently. It's become more of an appliance, and I say that in a good way."

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.