Facebook advertising revenue grows during boycott

On the same day that organizers of the Facebook ad boycott called for it to continue and expand to Europe, the social media giant reported that advertising revenue grew about 10% in the first three weeks of July.

The company’s comments on July ad revenue came during the release of its second quarter numbers which, while down sharply from previous quarters, were still better than expected during the pandemic.

The #StopHateForProfit boycott was announced in June, the result of long-standing complaints from human rights groups that Facebook does not do enough to stop the spread of hate content. Demands for meaningful action on the issue increased amidst widespread anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd.

“To be clear, Mr. Zuckerberg has not yet approached the type of meaningful action that we want to see,” said the organizers of the #StopHateForProfit campaign in a release Thursday. Facebook has taken some steps in recent weeks to eliminate hateful and other toxic content, they said, “but this is not close to what needs to happen.”

The organizers said that “many companies” are still unwilling to return to Facebook, although some big brands—including North Face, Heineken, Puma and Pernod Ricard—have reportedly decided they’re ready to go back. “We are encouraged by the initial progress and recognize that change doesn’t happen overnight,” a North Face spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

Throughout July, Facebook posted updates on what it has been doing to tackle the problem, including one post on July 24 directly addressing each of the 10 #StopHateForProfit recommendations.

Facebook also provided an overview of what is being done in Canada, and announced last week that it is committing $500,000 over five years to Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism to help create the Global Network Against Hate.

The money will fund a new position at the Centre to “facilitate global partnerships and knowledge-sharing focused on researching, understanding and preventing hate, bias and extremism online and off.”

“We hope to help the Centre reach its objectives of preventing hate, bias and extremism in the Canadian and international contexts and advance our work at Facebook to create a safe, positive and inclusive environment for the millions of people who connect across our platforms every day,” said Kevin Chan, head of public policy, Facebook Canada.

While the global economy suffered during the second quarter as the pandemic shut down many businesses and many marketers paused their ad spend, Facebook still grew during the second quarter.

Revenue was up 11% to $18.7 billion (compared to the $17.3 billion projected by analysts), while monthly active users rose to 2.7 billion (the averaged projections from analysts was 2.63 billion). Facebook saw growth of 17% in the first quarter.

While acknowledging that the advertiser boycott could have an effect on  revenue, Facebook noted that ad revenue still grew during the boycott.

“In the first three weeks of July, our year-over-year ad revenue growth rate was approximately in-line with our second quarter 2020 year-over-year ad revenue growth rate of 10%,” it said. “We expect our full quarter year-over-year ad revenue growth rate for the third quarter of 2020 will be roughly similar to this July performance.”







David Brown