Facebook Reports Record Ad Revenue for Q2 2021, Despite Apple’s iOS Privacy Changes

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Undeterred by Apple’s recent anti-tracking privacy changes, Facebook continues to rake in billions in advertising revenue, as evidenced by its latest fiscal 2021 second quarter results announced Wednesday.

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On the company’s Q2 earnings call, the social network revealed it had accumulated $28 billion in ad revenue, representing a 56% year-on-year increase. That saw Facebook more than double its profits from the previous year, earning $10.4 billion, up from $5.2 billion in 2020.

Despite the figures for its main revenue stream, Facebook CFO David Wehner did note that the company expects to feel the brunt of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency rules in the third quarter.

“We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes, notably the recent iOS updates, which we expect to have a greater impact in the third quarter compared to the second quarter.”

Apple in iOS 14.5 introduced App Tracking Transparency, which requires app developers to ask for express permission before accessing the IDFA for tracking users across apps and websites.

Prior to the enforcement of App Tracking Transparency, Facebook launched a campaign attempting to position Apple as an enemy of small businesses, and even took out full page newspaper ads decrying the new feature. “Apple’s latest update threatens the personalized ads that millions of small businesses rely on to find and reach customers,” reads Facebook’s site encouraging small businesses to “add their voice” and speak out against ATT.

However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in March began downplaying the potential impact of App Tracking Transparency and said that the changes could ultimately benefit Facebook if Apple’s new policies encourage businesses to advertise and sell exclusively through Facebook platforms.

According to early data from the ad-measurement firm Branch Metrics, less than 33% of iOS users have permitted apps to track them across other apps. The remaining 67% of iOS users opted not to permit apps to track their activity. As a result, the amount of advertiser spending on Apple’s mobile platform has fallen by about one-third between June 1 and July 1, causing advertisers to spend more money targeting Android users instead.

During Wednesday’s earnings call, Facebook said the number of active users across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp has increased by 12% year-on-year, with 2.76 billion people now counting as daily active users.

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