Facebook Users and Advertisers Appear to Be Standing Pat

Facebook released quarterly financial data for the first time since the Cambridge Analytica revelations, and the results show no sign of advertisers or users abandoning the platform.

The company's performance was considerably stronger than many observers, including eMarketer, had expected.

Facebook's Q1 2018 ad revenue rose 50% year over year, far higher than eMarketer's projection of a 30% gain for the quarter.

"We do still expect growth to slow down later in the year," said eMarketer's senior forecasting director, Monica Peart, "but Facebook's latest figures are clearly stronger than expected."

Meanwhile, daily active users in the US and Canada remained flat in Q1 2018 with 185 million users, compared to the previous quarter, with 184 million. The same held true for users in Europe. Outside of those regions, however, Facebook's DAUs grew from 940 million in Q4 2017 to 982 million in Q1 2018.

"Facebook’s user engagement is holding steady, which indicates—at least for now—that users are getting about the same amount of value out of being a Facebook user as they were before any of the latest changes by the company to enhance ‘meaningful interaction’ with friends and family and limit exposure to ‘passive content,’” said eMarketer's Peart.

While growth remains steady, Facebook is taking steps to protect its content and data. The social media giant expects to double the number of people it has working on content security.

Facebook already made some movement last month when it shut down Partner Categories, a product that enabled third party data providers to offer their targeting directly on the platform. And this comes at a time when few people are comfortable sharing their personal data via third parties.

A March 2018 Vision Critical study found that just 16.7% of digital buyers would be OK with that.

Facebook's results echo the Q1 results of Google, which also seemed to be unaffected by privacy concerns. The search giant, which so far hasn't faced the same level of public outcry or scrutiny endured by Facebook in recent weeks, reported that Q1 2018 revenue rose 26% year over year—a sign that advertisers aren't slowing their digital ad spending.

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