Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has done an incredible job at growing its mobile business in recent years. Ever since the company started "trying," mobile ad revenue has skyrocketed. That's helped drive shares to all-time highs after the social network just reported an impressive quarter on nearly every possible front.
Total revenue jumped 41% to $4.5 billion, and Facebook continued to invest heavily in the future, which is why operating income rose by a modest 4%. Still, net income jumped 11% to $896 million, or $0.31 per share. On an adjusted basis, non-GAAP earnings per share was $0.57, easily ahead of the $0.52 per share in adjusted profit the market was expecting.
There are now 1.55 billion monthly active users, of which 1.39 billion use the service from a mobile device. While Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) flounders and tries to revamp its product to appeal to the mobile masses, Facebook has already won over the mobile masses and is killing it.
A trip down memory lane
Once upon a time, Facebook made little to no money on mobile. It was only in Q2 2012 that Facebook started to generate any semblance of mobile advertising revenue, bringing in just $30 million that quarter. That represented just 3% of total advertising revenue during the quarter. In the years since, Facebook has executed extremely well with growing that figure, and last quarter, mobile advertising comprised 78% of total advertising revenue.
But all while Facebook has worked to increase this figure, its total revenue base has also been soaring. The net result is an extremely successful mobile advertising business. In fact, Facebook's mobile ad revenue in dollar terms has just crossed into 11-digit territory. On a trailing-12-month basis, Facebook's mobile ad revenue is now $11.2 billion.
That's what I call trying.
One of these is not like the other
Twitter has long had a similar composition of its advertising revenue. Last quarter, mobile accounted for 86% of Twitter's total advertising revenue. Total revenue is also on the rise, jumping 60% last quarter to $513 million.
But the main concern for Twitter is the fear that perhaps the platform has already peaked. Those fears are particularly potent in the critical U.S. market, where monetization is the strongest. Twitter's U.S. MAUs have been flat all year at 66 million. The smaller social network has been able to increase U.S. advertising revenue through increased monetization, but it will really need to garner more users to truly scale in a way that will satisfy investors.
Where Facebook tries next
There's another reason studying Facebook's mobile progress is so important: Instagram. Facebook has hardly scratched the service with the photo-sharing service it acquired. The company only recently began ramping up monetization efforts, and analysts believe Instagram could easily generate $2 billion in revenue next year. Instagram is now up to 400 million MAUs worldwide, which is already a larger number than Twitter can boast.
At least investors seem to be over 2015's soaring costs, which they freaked out about last year. Those investments are paying off handsomely.
Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Facebook. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Twitter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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