Mobile Ad Sales Help Boost Facebook Earnings

Facebook beat analysts' expectations, posting solid sales in the third quarter Tuesday. Most important to the company's future, 14 percent of its revenues came from mobile advertising. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said he wants to "dispel the myth that Facebook can't make money from mobile." Still, Facebook's mobile partner, game maker Zynga, is in trouble and announced it is laying off 5 percent of its workforce.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Well, Facebook yesterday announced its revenues were up 32 percent in the third quarter. Good news for the social networking site, whose shares took a drive, after its much-hyped initial public offering last May.

As NPR's Ailsa Chang reports, ads sales on mobile devices are helping.

AILSA CHANG, BYLINE: Before Facebook's IPO, CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously insisted that he didn't care that much about making money, it was all about the product. Well, things have changed a bit now.

MARK ZUCKERBERG: I want to dispel this myth that Facebook can't make money on mobile.

CHANG: That's Zuckerberg on a conference call Tuesday. It turns out about 14 percent of all advertising sales came from ads on mobile devices. And the company expects that figure to grow.

More than a billion people now use Facebook. That's one-seventh of the world. And more than 600 million people access Facebook on a hand-held device at least once a month. So the challenge now is, how do you turn those mobile users into a real revenue source without annoying them?

Debra Williamson is an analyst with eMarketers.

DEBRA WILLIAMSON: I think about myself. I mean, when I'm standing in line at the coffee shop, waiting for my latte and I'm looking through Facebook for a few minutes, that's my own personal time to kind of get caught up in the world around me.

CHANG: Zuckerberg says he wants mobile ads to be integrated into the core Facebook experience. But people don't shop for products on Facebook the way they do on Google. So analysts say more ads might actually tarnish that experience.

Ailsa Chang, NPR News.

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