MENLO PARK (CBS SF / CNN) — Facebook’s core advertising business has been upended by the pandemic, but the company said it saw “signs of stability” in the first three weeks of April.
On Wednesday, the Menlo Park-based social media giant said it experienced a “significant reduction” in the demand for advertising, as well as a related decline in the pricing of ads, during the final three weeks of the quarter ending in March. The announcement comes as businesses around the world are forced to tighten their budgets or shutter entirely because of the pandemic.
Even so, Facebook posted $17.7 billion in revenue for the first three months of the year, an 18% increase from the same period a year ago. And while the advertising market may be rocky, usage is high. The company said it experienced “increased engagement as people around the world sheltered in place and used our products to connect with the people and organizations they care about.”
Online services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Zoom have become social lifelines during the pandemic for billions of people around the world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the social network’s usage has been so high during the coronavirus pandemic that the company is “just trying to keep the lights on.” Facebook owns both WhatsApp and Instagram.
Facebook now has 1.73 billion daily active users and 2.6 billion monthly active users, a year-over-year increase of 11% and 10%, respectively.
Shares of Facebook jumped 10% in after-hours trading following the earnings report.
Facebook is the latest tech company to report growing usage while nodding to a slowdown in ad sales. Alphabet and Snapchat each pointed at advertising slowdowns in March, when the pandemic really took hold in the US.
But as the broader market struggles, investors still seem upbeat about big tech and its relatively strong position to survive the pandemic given their market dominance, strong cash positions and consumers’ growing reliance on online services while stuck inside their homes.
One silver lining of sorts on the expense side: Facebook said it expects to see savings in areas such as travel, events and marketing. The company has canceled all of its planned physical events with 50 or more people through June 2021 due to concerns about the pandemic. It also previously extended its policy of no business travel through at least June.
Due to “increasing uncertainty” in its business outlook, Facebook is not giving investors revenue guidance for the coming quarter or full year.
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