Every month, 2.3 billion people log into its namesake platform to connect with friends and family.
That reach is practically unprecedented, and advertisers have taken notice. Over seven million use the platform to reach customers.
Advertising is the moneymaker for Facebook, comprising 99% of the company's overall revenue.
In this video, we're going to explain how Facebook turns status updates and pictures of your dog into a multi-billion-dollar advertising empire.
The global digital advertising marketing is effectively a duopoly controlled by Facebook and Alphabet's Google.
In 2019, the two platforms are projected to control over 50% of the $327 billion market.
Facebook alone logged over $55 billion in revenue in 2018, up 37% year over year.
Facebook and Google tackle advertising slightly differently, but their success comes down to the same thing: targeting.
Targeted advertising uses sophisticated methods to let marketers drill down to specific audiences.
These groups have certain traits that are related to the product or message the advertiser is selling.
The traits might be demographic and involve gender, age, level of education, income level, or employment.
Or they could be psychographic traits that focus on the consumer's values, personality, attitudes, opinions, lifestyles, and interests.
Add some behavioral variables to the equation like browser history, purchase history, and other recent online activity, and you have a very firm idea of who a consumer is.
With all of these tools at their disposal, advertisers can focus on the most qualified people for their message, leading to better performing campaigns and higher return on investment for every ad dollar spent.
Facebook is a goldmine for this kind of targeting because it knows who you are, where you work, your friends, and your interests from the pages you follow.
And it has that data on a lot of people. As already mentioned, Facebook has about 2.3 billion global monthly active users.
Its photo-sharing property Instagram also boasts about one billion monthly active users.
But some of that audience is more valuable to advertisers than others.
Of those 2.3 billion monthly Facebook users, about 10% are in the United States and Canada, and Instagram users in North America account for 13% of the company's total users.
All told, North America made up 48% of the company's revenue in 2018.
That's because on a per-user basis, users in the U.S. and Canada are more valuable to advertisers.
Ad rates are generally a reflection of consumer purchasing power.
Worldwide, Facebook earned an average of roughly $25 per user on ads in 2018.
But in the U.S. and Canada, that average was almost $110.
Unfortunately, growth in Facebook's home market is going to be harder to come by because it's pretty saturated.
Just think about it. Thanks to the network effect, most people you know are on Facebook.
That's why you're on Facebook.
The platform had 231 million monthly active users in North America at the end of 2016.
In the past two years, it's only added 11 million to that total. During that same time, the platform saw international monthly active users go from 1.6 billion to 2.1 billion.
So, what's Facebook doing to adjust?
The company has really turned on its ad engine for its other properties, like Instagram, to help maintain its growth figures.
Specific numbers are hard to come by, but one source estimated that Instagram's U.S. ad revenue jumped 70% in 2018.
Other sources say Instagram's overall revenue will grow to $10.9 billion in 2019, representing a 22.5% jump year over year.
The company also has two messaging apps, WhatsApp and Messenger, that each have over a billion monthly users.
But so far, Mark Zuckerberg and company haven't quite figured out how to monetize them.
Targeted ads are the reason investors like Facebook.
Long-term, the company will have to figure out how to port that model to its messaging apps or find another way to monetize its untapped platforms.
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