Facebook is fast making inroads into mobile devices, with 75% of its users firing up its application on smart phones or tablets in the first quarter this year.
Those mobile viewers are translating to rapidly growing pool of advertising dollars for the Silicon Valley social network. Facebook derived 30% of the $1.25 billion it made from advertising from mobile ads in the quarter ended March 31, the company announced Wednesday. That's up from 23% in the fourth quarter and no mobile ad revenue a year earlier.
The jump from zero to 30% represent the company's concerted push to mobile, where many of its 1.1 billion users are spending more of their time. About 751 million people checked their Facebook feeds on mobile devices in March, 189 million of whom use Facebook only on their phones or tablets.
Overall, Facebook earned $373 million in the first quarter on $1.46 billion in revenue, 85% of which from advertising and 15% from microtransactions from applications, largely games, on its platform. A year ealier, Facebook earned $381 million on $1.09 billion in sales.
A strong mobile presence is critical for attracting and retaining a younger demographic that may be regarding Facebook as their parents' social network. When asked by analyst Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets to address the "urban legand" that people under 25 years are drifting away from Facebook, the company's chief financial officer, David Ebersman, did not provide data on whether Facebook's share of younger users has shrunk. Instead, he acknowledged that surveys show younger people are "using other services." But he expressed "concern that this is seen as a zero sum game," that people's adoption of other social networks results in a total disengagement from Facebook.
"Younger users remain among the most active and engaged on Facebook," Ebersman said, pointing out that the Instagram is also popular among the under-25 demographic. Facebook bought the photo blogging network a year ago for $1 billion when it counted 22 million daily users. Today, Instagram has more than 100 million daily users.