Facebook Revenue Soars as Usable Real Estate Plummets

Facebook's Secret Message to Me

Facebook’s Secret Message to Me (Photo credit: boltron-)

I used to really love Facebook.   I loved it not only for personal use, but for business use as well.  I still have multiple Facebook accounts that I manage for my business and of course, my personal account. I used to visit my Facebook feed several times a day.   I did it to look for news, what my friends were saying, the few photographers I follow, some gardening pages that are really high quality, and to keep up with my direct reports at work.

I’ve visited my Facebook page twice in the last week.  Once was to tell my daughter who’s studying abroad in Copenhagen that we wanted to chat with her on …. wait for it…. Skype.  I’d normally just chat her on Facebook.  I’m bummed that I don’t want to go there anymore.

So, as a social media manager and a lover of all things social, some of you are probably shocked at this attitude.  Let me tell you how a long-time Facebook user and enthusiast ended up jaded and frustrated.  It’s all about usable real estate:

I Mean REALLY, Look at All Those Ads

At some point, any site that depends on ads for its primary source of revenue has to go overboard on the ads due to the almighty dollar, and I think I know when Facebook finally went over the line.

The only thing I really like to look at is my news feed.  There are other features in Facebook, but the news feed right in the middle is what everyone likes and uses the most.  So, I got frustrated one day and graphed out the changes in the Facebook UI over time, and compared that to company revenue.

Check it out:

I went back in time all the way to 2010 and looked at a LOT of screen shots of Facebook’s UI changes over time. I used screenies from all over the place, including a Facebook UI timeline I found on SlideShare that was easy to thumb through.

I then checked the estimated and projected yearly revenue for Facebook from 2010 until today and graphed it out.  Here’s what I came up with:

Facebookrevvshoriz

 

So, the X axis is the year.  Obviously :)

The Y axis means two different things.

The BLUE LINE is the usable real estate as a percentage, in my terms.  I got this percentage by doing the following:

  • I analyzed screenshots from 2010 forward of what the Facebook news feed page looks like
  • I compared the horizontal pixels used by the news feed box to the total width of the frame
  • I turned that comparison into a percentage of usable horizontal real estate.

The RED LINE is the yearly (or estimated yearly) gross revenue for Facebook, in HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS.  So for example, in 2010 Facebook brought in around $2 billion.

For me, reading the graph, I was still a satisfied user back in 2012 when the horizontal real estate was OK.

You know what happened in 2012?  Facbook got CLOBBERED on the street.  They got panned for their lack of a good approach for mobile revenue, which prompted the pretty drastic decrease in usable real estate.  But it wasn’t just adapting to mobile.

They’re simply cramming too many ads down my throat now.

They’re even sprinkling them in my news feed, polluting what once was a hefty stream of consciousness from all of my trusted friends and companies.

If that graph continues like that, we’ll start seeing Facebook posting losses because people WILL leave in droves.  Mark my words, Facebook :)

I’ll tell you what Facebook.  Two years down the road, I’ll throw another data line into the graph that shows active users of the platform and we’ll do the same exercise!!

Till next time,

Daryll