Facebook is scheduled to release its next earnings report tomorrow after closing bell, and analysts are expecting the social network to ride high on the back of the strong digital ad market, which has thus far been demonstrated through strong results from Google, LinkedIn and Twitter last week.
Engagement data for Facebook remains strong
Verto Analytics released its latest data on engagement on Facebook’s platform. The firm markets itself as “comScore + Nielsen + AppAnnie on steroids.”
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During the third quarter, Verto estimates that Facebook’s website and apps, which include the main Facebook App, the Messenger App, WhatsApp, and Instagram, reached about 95% of the U.S. population or, on average, 236 million monthly users. The firm defines the online U.S. population as all users over the age of 18 accessing the internet on any device. Using this definition, Verto estimates the total population at 247.7 million.
Verto Analytics estimates that Facebook’s average daily reach was at about 185 million users during the quarter, which results in a “Verto Stickiness Index” of 79% for the quarter. The firm’s stickiness index “compares daily users with monthly users to reflect the active, loyal, and engaged part of the audience.” In other words, a higher percentage indicates a larger share of daily users versus monthly users.
PCs still Facebook’s dominant device
Although the shift from desktop to mobile devices continues, Verto reports that still most of Facebook’s monthly active users are on PCs. The firm reports that 171 million users were on PCS, 151 million were on smartphones, and 79 million were on tablets during the third quarter. Verto Analytics also found that 27% or 65 million of Facebook’s monthly active users only accessed the social network through mobile devices. Looking at daily users, 53% or 97 million only used it on mobile devices. Verto also found that Facebook users spend an average of 40 minutes per month using the platform.
“Contrary to comments about Facebook losing its popularity, in particular among younger generations, Facebook remains the leader of social media in the U.S.,” Verto Analytics CEO Hannu Verkasalo says “In the last quarter, Facebook reached 95% of the online population, and it is the only service with a 100% reach among users of other top social media properties. No other service comes even close.”
Interestingly, another recent study found that Facebook users are starting to share less on the platform, which some say could turn out to be a huge problem for it, although for now, advertisers remain focused on minutes spent on the platform.
What to expect in Facebook’s earnings report
In a report dated Nov. 2, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali and his team said they expect Facebook to report revenue of $4.38 billion in revenue, which would represent a year over year increase of 36.8%. They’re looking for EBITDA to be at $2.73 billion with a 62.3% margin. Consensus estimates suggest revenue of $4.37 billion and EBITDA of $2.73 billion. Yousseff expects a 13.4% increase in monthly active users, bringing Facebook’s total to 1.531 billion, and adjusted earnings of 47 cents per share, compared to the consensus estimate of 52 cents.
The Cantor Fitzgerald team believes ad revenue grew by 41.2% year over year, bringing it to $4.2 billion. That would be a growth rate of almost three times faster than the overall advertising market but a deceleration from the previous quarter’s 43% growth. Looking into next year, they expect growth of about 40% to continue as marketers become more comfortable with social media advertising and pricing for News Feed and auto-play video ads moves higher.
Squali believes mobile revenue will be at around 80% of Facebook’s total revenue, an increase from 76% in the second quarter. They believe Payments and Other Fees revenue will “continue to atrophy” with a decline of 16.3% from last year due to declines in PC gaming.
Cantor Fitzgerald has a Buy rating and $105 per share price target on Facebook. The social network’s shares fell by as much as 0.47% to $102.82 per share during regular trading hours today.