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10 big earnings questions Facebook probably won’t answer

Teens and Snapchat? Instagram earning money finally? The impact of the fake news scandal? These are what we wish Facebook would talk about on today’s Q4 earnings call. Facebook’s business is expanding in every direction, but it breaks out very little of that, keeping investors and the public in the dark about its newer revenue streams. Meanwhile, controversies and competition can have macro effects on earnings, but are rarely discussed in detail.

Here’s the questions I’d like to hear Facebook answer on its earnings call, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Most Likely

How much has running out of News Feed ad space slowed revenue growth already?

Facebook said it’s hitting maximum News Feed ad load, so the question is whether lucrative videos and better targeting can command increasingly high ad-rates to offset the lack of room to simply show more ads. It will probably say something, especially if the impact is already a big deal, but it may be cagey on the specifics

Less Likely

How much is Instagram earning?

Instagram’s been running ads for over three years but Facebook still hasn’t broken out revenue. Now it’s even running ads on its rapidly-growing Instagram Stories feature.

How have metric and measurement errors impacted advertiser confidence?

Facebook had to admit to multiple errors in how it measured video viewing and other stats this quarter. Those apparently didn’t impact ad billing directly, but did the problems make advertisers reluctant to spend big?


How did the election, after-math, and fake news scandal impact engagement?

The press made a huge deal out of fake news, despite Facebook saying it’s a tiny fraction of what’s shared. Between that and Trump’s election are people more addicted to News Feed or less now?

How much is Facebook Workplace earning? Facebook officially launched its enterprise collaboration suite in October. How are sales and costs stacking up?

How much is Facebook Messenger earning? Facebook opened Sponsored Messages to all advertisers in November. What are the initial results in terms of revenue and advertiser demand?


Fat Chance

How are internet accessibility initiatives impacting user or revenue growth?

Facebook said last quarter that 40 million people have gotten connected to the internet through its Free Basics app and Express wifi hubs. But is that now benefiting Facebook’s bottom line, not just its mission?

What’s happening with original content sharing?

A report from The Information last year said Facebook had seen a drop in original content sharing like status updates and photos. Facebook has repeatedly said overall sharing is healthy, but this intimate content — not news article links — is what makes Facebook indispensable.

How have investments in partners creating Live and premium video panned out?

Facebook paid a reported $50 million to news publishers and celebrities to broadcast on live and now it’s reportedly striking deals for longer form premium video. What results in engagement, adoption of Live, and revenue did those investments produce?

What’s happening with US teen engagement with the News Feed?

Snapchat remains a threat to Facebook and Instagram as the center of teens’ online presence, despite the success of Instagram Stories. But after admitting a decrease in daily users amongst younger teens back in 2013, it’s share price took a nose dive and it’s been reluctant to discuss the important stat since.