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Facebook Closes in on New Milestone of 3 Billion Total Users Across its Platforms

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Amid the uncertain impacts of COVID-19, Facebook has published its latest earnings report, showing double-digit increases users and revenue – though it has warned of a more significant slowdown on the horizon.

First off, on users – Facebook added 105 million users in Q1, taking it to 2.60 billion MAU, a 10% increase YoY.

Facebook Q1 2020 - DAU

Daily actives jumped 77 million in the quarter, the biggest increase since 2011, which come largely as a result of increased usage amid the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Facebook Q1 2020 - DAU

And while those results are impressive, Facebook has sought to temper expectation around such moving forward:

“Our community metrics, including Facebook DAUs and MAUs and Family MAP and DAP, reflect increased engagement as people around the world sheltered in place and used our products to connect with the people and organizations they care about. We expect that we will lose at least some of this increased engagement when various shelter-in-place restrictions are relaxed in the future.”

As with all businesses, it’s difficult to compare activity in the current period to normal times, as we are currently not living in a normal situation. But the numbers do show that Facebook remains a key resource for many users, and has once again been a key connective platform amid the pandemic.

In terms of region-specific trends, the Asia-Pacific market remains the biggest driver of growth for Facebook, with India, in particular seeing significant take-up as the developing nation undergoes its own digital shift. Facebook recently made a key step towards maximizing its opportunities in the region by purchasing a stake in Indian mobile provider Jio – which is noted in its accompanying statements around capex.

Across all of its apps – Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram – Facebook has also shared that it’s now close to reaching its next major milestone – 3 billion total users.

Facebook Users

The true scope of that is hard to fathom – the population of the entire world is 7.8 billion, and when you also take into account that Facebook is banned in China (1.4b) and several other nations, and that only around half of the world is able to access the internet at all, Facebook’s active reach, via its various apps, is almost absolute in practical terms.

The vast majority of people who can access Facebook’s apps, use them, simple as that.

And while Zuck and Co have dealt with various PR disasters, privacy missteps, and other concerns that have lead some commentators to talk down the Facebook empire, the data is clear. Facebook’s reach is virtually unmatched, and its data resources are huge – and continue to grow every day.

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In terms of revenue, Facebook brought in $17.74 billion in Q1, which beat analyst estimates.

Facebook Q1 2020 - Revenue

But the company has warned of slowing ad growth as a result of COVID-19:

“We experienced a significant reduction in the demand for advertising, as well as a related decline in the pricing of our ads, over the last three weeks of the first quarter of 2020.”

Various reports have already pointed to a slowdown in Facebook’s ad business, which is largely reliant on advertiser volume, getting a lot of businesses to use its ad tools, as opposed to building on the back of fewer large providers. With many SMBs shut down due to the coronavirus mitigation effort, a downturn is expected, and Facebook is getting in early, flagging potential impacts in future reports.

“Due to the increasing uncertainty in our business outlook, we are not providing specific revenue guidance for the second quarter or full-year 2020, but rather a snapshot on revenue performance in the second quarter thus far.”

Facebook does note that it’s seen renewed signs of stability in its ad business over the first three weeks of April, but that would mean that it’s looking to post a flat result, as opposed to growth. That’s probably all that can be expected right now, but Facebook’s looking to manage market expectations now, ahead of those impacts.

Also, here’s an interesting new chart that Facebook has provided:

Facebook Q1 2020 - ARPU

The company has reported average revenue per person across its entire family of apps, reflecting a slight year-on-year increase. Facebook will hard-pressed to boost that figure in the coming months, but it could be an interesting data point to note in future. It’s ARPP across its family of apps is also slightly lower than the average on Facebook alone ($6.95), which likely reflects that Instagram ARPP still has a way to go.

As noted, Facebook has also seen some significant outgoings of late, which will impact its overall position in Q2.

“Following the end of the quarter, we entered into an agreement to invest in Jio Platforms Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, for approximately $5.7 billion, and we paid the $5.0 billion settlement amount due under our modified consent order with the FTC, which took effect in April 2020.”

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Facebook finally received Federal Court approval of its agreement with the FTC over the Cambridge Analytica scandal last week, which will see it pay a $5 billion fine. The combined impact of this and its investment in Jio will reduce its margins in Q2, and with the expected reduction in advertiser spend, things may not look as good when Facebook next fronts analysts.

Still, these are expected, and Facebook has flagged such well in advance. Neither is likely to have a long term negative impact on the company’s standing (in fact, the opposite in the case of Jio).

Facebook also notes that it’s increased its headcount by 28% year-over-year to 49, 268, largely driven by increases in security and moderation – but at the same time, it’s expecting to see a reduction in operational expense in the immediate future due to reductions in travel, events, and marketing. Facebook is, however, looking to continue to invest in product development and recruiting technical talent moving forward. In addition to this, Facebook has also committed more than $300 million to COVID-19 relief efforts.

Overall, it’s another good report from Facebook, and the market has responded in kind, with signs pointing to ongoing growth, despite the expected downturn. The fact that Facebook says its ad businesses is already stabilizing is another key point of confidence, and as it also looks to ramp up its efforts in India, its dominance looks only set to increase.  

Socialmediatoday.com

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YouTube Tests Improved Comment Removal Notifications, Updated Video Performance and Hashtag Insights

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YouTube Expands its 'Pre-Publish Checks' Tool to the Mobile App

YouTube’s looking to provide more context on content removals and violations, while it’s also experimenting with a new form of analytics on average video performance benchmarks, along with improved hashtag discovery, which could impact your planning and process.

First off, on policy violations – YouTube’s looking to provide more context on comment removals via an updated system that will link users through to the exact policy that they’ve violated when a comment is removed.

As explained by YouTube’s Conor Kavanagh:

“Many users have told us that they would like to know if and when their comment has been removed for violating one of our Community Guidelines. Additionally, we want to protect creators from a single user’s ability to negatively impact the community via comments, either on a single channel or multiple channels.”

The new comment removal notification aims to address this, by providing more context as to when a comment has been removed for violating the platform’s Community Guidelines.

In expansion of this, YouTube will also put some users into timeout if they keep breaking the rules. Literally:

If someone leaves multiple abusive comments, they may receive a temporary timeout which will block the ability to comment for up to 24 hours.”

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YouTube says that this will hopefully reduce the amount of abusive comments across the platform, while also adding more transparency to the process, in order to help people understand how they’ve broken the rules, which could also help to guide future behavior.

On a similar note, YouTube’s also expanding its test of timestamps in Community Guidelines policy violation notifications for publishers, which provide more specific details on when a violation has occurred in video clips.

Initially only available for violations of its ‘Harmful and Dangerous’ policy, YouTube’s now expanding these notifiers to violations related to ‘Child Safety’, ‘Suicide and Self-Harm’, and ‘Violent or Graphic’.

If you’re in the experiment, you’ll see these timestamps in YouTube Studio as well as over email if we believe a violation has occurred. We hope these timestamps are useful in understanding why your video violated our policies and we hope to expand to more policies over time.”

On another front, YouTube’s also testing a new analytics card in YouTube Studio which will show creators the typical amount of views they get on different formats, including VODs, Shorts, and live streams.

YouTube average video performance

As you can see in this example, the new data card will provide insight into the average amount of views you see in each format, based on your the last 10 uploads in each, which could provide more comparative context on performance.

Finally, YouTube’s also launched a test that aims to showcase more relevant hashtags on video clips.

“We’re launching an experiment to elevate the hashtags on a video’s watch page that we’ve found viewers are interested in, instead of just the first few added to the video’s description. Hashtags are still chosen by creators themselves – nothing is changing there – the goal of the experiment is simply to drive more engagement with hashtags while connecting viewers with content they will likely enjoy.”

So YouTube will be looking to highlight more relevant hashtags in video clips, as a means to better connect users to more video clips on the same topic.

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Which could put more emphasis on hashtag use – so it could be time to upgrade your hashtag research approach in line with the latest trending topics.

All of these updates are fairly minor, but they could impact your YouTube approach, and it’s worth considering the potential impacts in your process.

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