Facebook collected more than $ 28 billion in revenue, mainly advertising, in the last quarter of 2020, and generated 11.2 billion in net profits, up 53% year on year, thanks to the explosion of digital practices, especially the e-commerce, during the pandemic.
The social media giant has seen its user base grow again during the holiday season. As of December 31, 3.3 billion people frequented, at least once a month, one of its four platforms and messengers (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp), according to a statement released Wednesday.
But the platform foresees “headwinds” this year because of potential developments in data regulation, especially in Europe, and the strengthening of transparency in the collection of personal information on Apple brand devices.
“Even if the timing of changes brought about by iOS 14 (the operating system for Apple phones and tablets) remains uncertain, we expect to see an impact by the end of the first quarter,” said the company.
Its title went back and forth between red and green during electronic trading after the stock market closed.
The Californian group nevertheless emerges among the big winners of a year marked by the recession for many industries.
Facebook believes it has benefited from the transition to online commerce, and from its less dependence on advertisers severely affected by the health crisis, such as tour operators – unlike Google, the leader in online advertising.
“These strong results are not surprising,” noted Debra Aho Williamson, analyst at eMarketer. “The company was well positioned to benefit from the adoption of e-commerce.”
With the containment measures, consumers overwhelmingly turned to online stores for their end-of-year spending.
“We also continue to believe that Instagram plays an oversized role in the success of Facebook in general,” added the expert. “Last year, Instagram accounted for about 36% of the group’s advertising revenue globally, and nearly half (49%) of US revenue.”
Facebook has just gone through an eventful year, full of pitfalls. In the spring, at the start of the pandemic, many advertisers withdrew their campaigns to revise their message or save money.
In the summer, hundreds of brands boycotted the network to demand better moderation of so-called “hate” content, in the wake of protests against systemic racism in the United States.
In the fall, the US presidential election crystallized tensions between the platform and elected officials, who criticize it for its omnipotence in terms of freedom of expression.
So many turmoils that did not translate into financial losses. The group achieved nearly $ 86 billion in sales over the year, and generated more than 29 billion in profits, up 58%.
According to eMarketer, the platform family is expected to reach 96.6 billion net advertising revenue in 2021, or 24.4% of the global market.
But like its west coast neighbors, Facebook can expect a politically complicated 2021. The new president, Joe Biden, does not carry the network in his heart.
And in December, several American authorities accused the company of abusing its dominant position and its full coffers to oust the competition. They even called on the courts to force Facebook to part ways with Instagram and WhatsApp messaging, which helped transform the group into a must-have network empire.