Facebook has recorded record third-quarter revenue on the back of strong digital ad-spending despite contending with an advertiser boycott and the worst ravages of the coronavirus.
The North Face, Verizon, Unilever and others pulled advertising from Facebook in July after civil rights groups launched ‘Stop Hate for Profit’, a campaign designed to force a review of Facebook's hate speech policies.
Despite this, the social giant has announced 22% year-on-year revenue growth, including revenues of $21.5bn, and net income of $7.8bn.
What do Facebook’s most recent numbers look like?
Facebook clocked revenue of $21.5bn over the quarter, a healthy 22% year-on-year increase and comfortably ahead of Wall Street expectations of $19.8bn.
Facebook's financial strength is founded on an ever-increasing daily active user base which surged to 1.82bn, an increase of 12% year-on-year and again ahead of analyst estimates of 1.78bn.
Scanning the balance sheet Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst for eMarketer, said: "Facebook rebounded nicely from both the early-pandemic advertiser pullout when marketers pulled ads across all media to redo messaging or conserve funds and from the July ad boycott."
Acknowledging a potentially prickly period for Facebook over the coming weeks Williamson added: “Despite its challenges with election turmoil and content moderation, it remains a go-to for advertisers seeking to engage a broad base of consumers.”
An ‘uncertain’ 2021
Facebook, which also owns Instagram and Whatsapp, may have seen off a short-lived advertiser boycott but CEO Mark Zuckerberg still has a fight on his hands over its content moderation policies.
Earlier this week Zuckerberg was grilled by US senators on the subject alongside Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google head Sundar Pichai, hauled before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss a federal law that would shield internet platforms from user-generated content.
Amid these distractions, Facebook is profiting from business as usual as companies and people flock to its services amid pandemic restrictions.
Even the mighty Facebook acknowledges 'uncertainty' when looking ahead to 2021 when a possible reversion away from online shopping could coincide with tougher regulation.
A sign of how fragile Facebook's position may be user numbers across North America declined slightly from 256 to 255m in the second quarter, indicating it has reached saturation point in mature markets.
Facebook expects this listless local performance to extend into the immediate future, saying: “In the fourth quarter of 2020, we expect this trend to continue and that the number of [daily active users] and [monthly active users] in the US & Canada will be flat or slightly down compared to the third quarter of 2020.”