Facebook has become one of the definitive icons of the modern digital age, a virtual embodiment of the human potential of the internet as a tool for interpersonal communication and information sharing. It is also something of a fairy tale in which a computer nerd with limited interpersonal skills of his own became one of the world's richest individuals before he was 30 by ruthlessly pursuing his own vision and then cashing in with what was then the biggest technology IPO of all-time. In this fairy tale, Facebook's creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is arguably the hero and the villain combined, certainly according to his many detractors, and for a while it was far from clear yet just how happy the ending of this story would be. Even with its vast audience, which first topped 1bn monthly active users in 2012, Facebook's ability to justify its sky-high $100bn-plus valuation seemed untested, and there were distinct wobbles in the first months following the site's IPO, not least after the company paid $1bn to buy Instagram, a service with virtually no revenues at that point in time. Yet Facebook has gradually won over most sceptics (despite the even more astronomical $22bn purchase of private messaging service WhatsApp). It managed to accumulate an extraordinary #2 position in mobile advertising (behind Google) in little more than a year, and its overall sales growth appears to justify all those original expectations. However, life turned rather more challenging during 2017 and especially in 2018 as a result of a string of negative headlines over misuse of user data, privacy infringement, and the site's infiltration by fake accounts set up to manipulate political sentiment. Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg have spent much of their time since then fighting multiple political and ethical fires around the world. Yet that seemed to have had only minimal impact on Facebook's financial performance. There has been a marked slowdown in user growth, especially in developed markets, but advertising revenues continue to soar. For 2019, revenues jumped by another 27% to $70.7bn. However, net income fell 16% to $18.5bn as a result of heavy investment in privacy and security measures, regulatory penalties and rising legal costs.
Capsule checked 21st September 2018
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Adbrands Account Assignments track account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th May 2020: "Pictures". Two Facebook ads in two days? Seriously? Well, yes - sorry about that - but they're both excellent and are not to be overlooked. Taking full advantage of global lockdown, Facebook has rushed out not only its Zoom-killer Messenger Rooms, but also a rather fine ad for it, a joint production between inhouse unit Creative X, appointed agency Leo Burnett and also the inimitable Gondry brothers. Director Michel Gondry is already something of an industry legend, renowned for his particular style of visual trickery, here aided and abetted by his less well-known but equally talented brother Olivier. And if all that creative firepower wasn't already enough, flavour of the year Lizzo has been roped in to record her own version of Beatles classic All Together Now especially for the ad. Clearly Facebook means business here.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th May 2020: Facebook added to its family of brands with a deal to acquire the animated gif and social sticker library Giphy for $400m. Giphy is expected to retain its own branding, with its primary integration into its new owner likely to be via Facebook's Instagram platform.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th May 2020: "Still Going Strong". Facebook has been one of the handful of companies that seem to have enjoyed even stronger growth under lockdown than even before. Despite the plunge in revenues, usage is up. How else to keep doing the things you love when you can't leave home? We're not generally the biggest fans of these stitched-together, crowd-sourced spots, but Wieden & Kennedy's latest for the social giant is an inspiring mash-up of user-generated content that demonstrates the ingenuity that comes from being locked up at home for weeks at a time. The joyfully upbeat nature of the whole thing is actually infectious.
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Apr 2020: Facebook has acquired a 10% shareholding in Jio Reliance, India's biggest mobile operator, for a lavish $5.7bn. It is Facebook's biggest-ever cash investment in another company, bested only by the purchase of WhatsApp for $19bn in 2014. In the space of just four years, Jio has come to dominate the Indian 4G market by offering cut-rate data plans at prices well below more established rivals. This, Jio said, represents "the largest investment for a minority stake by a technology company anywhere in the world and the largest foreign direct investment in the technology sector in India". A key focus will be to forge a partnership between Jio's new ecommerce service JioMart, which offers an online platform for small local shops, and WhatsApp, which has 400m users in India. The messaging service is itself currently awaiting approval for the launch of a payments service. By allying itself with such an important local partner, the deal gives Facebook an important foothold in one of the world's biggest consumer markets; and one it could not have secured on its own. India is a famously difficult market for foreign companies to enter because of its regulatory and logistical challenges.
Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Apr 2020: "Never Lost". There have been several attempts by new ads to rise to the challenge of these difficult times, but few have managed it so well as this heart-tugging film from Droga5 New York for Facebook. While it's easy for the more cynical among us to castigate Facebook over issues of privacy or for helping to spread fake news, this platform and others like it (Nextdoor springs to mind) have really come into their own amid the new realities of everyday life. Plaudits too to our very own homegrown spoken word artist Kate Tempest, whose tone poem 'People's Faces' has gained a relevance she could never have predicted when she wrote it last year.
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