Mark Zuckerberg opens Facebook‘s Q2 earnings release with the most generic comment I’ve ever seen from a CEO in a document that companies typically use to hype themselves. “We had a good second quarter,” he says. “Our community has continued to grow, and we see a lot of opportunity ahead as we connect the rest of the world.” The numbers speak louder, I guess: Facebook’s net income of $788M is up 138% vs the period last year on revenues of $2.91B, +60.5%. That beat the $2.81B that analysts expected. Adjusted earnings at 42 cents a share also topped expectations for 32 cents.
The results sent Facebook shares on a ride in post-market trading, up 4%+ after an initial drop. The stock would hit a new high if the increase holds up tomorrow during the trading day. Read More »
Twitter definitely is big in the U.S. and many other countries, but don’t count on it becoming legally available in China in the near future, said CEO Dick Costolo today at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. “In my conversations over there in Shanghai, I don’t think Twitter or Facebook will be unblocked [on Chinese Internet servers] anytime soon,” said Costolo, responding to a question from an audience member who said she was with the Chinese Internet company TenCent. “So my conversations over there are about the kinds of business we can do.” For Twitter, that means talking with “lots of Chinese-based advertisers who are delivering ads overseas,” Costolo said. He then added carefully, “That was the majority of our conversations over there.” As for the rest of his Shanghai conversations, Costolo hinted that Twitter executives did meet with Chinese representatives about how it could finally be available there. “We’re in the very beginning stages of what it would look like over there.”
Related: Ryan Seacrest: Hollywood Must Do More With Social Media
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Facebook said today it will launch a feature on its phone apps similar to programs like Shazam that recognize movies, TV shows and music based on their audio “fingerprint.” When the new feature is activated while a user is writing a status update, the phone’s microphone listens to the song or what’s playing on the TV and tries to determine what it is. Once the show or song is recognized, Facebook users can share that information with other users in the post. Music posts will include a 30-second snippet of the song. TV show posts will include information about the specific season and episode so that, Facebook says in its announcement, conversations between friends can avoid causing spoilers for those who haven’t caught up. The feature will be part of Facebook’s apps for iOS- and Android-based phones and will be rolled out across the company’s 1.2 billion users during the next several weeks.
Column: Social media has had a tremendous impact on movie and television marketing, increasing awareness and visibility for a TV show or movie across the globe in a click — a lot clicks — of a button. Some of the best social media teams right now on TV are the two Jimmys — late-night talk hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. These two are in a constant battle for viewers and they really go at each other on social media. Their social engagement across platforms and their understanding of social heralds a new generation of savvy Hollywood stars backed by sophisticated online marketing teams that understand how to push past traditional media to build a tremendous fan base. Increasingly, stars, celebrities and their teams are using social media to extend awareness of their brands — because that is what they have become — online and off, driving ratings and box office as well as bigger fan bases.
These days, a performer’s social media footprint is strongly considered when marketers start strategizing a film’s campaign. Vin Diesel is the current king of social, almost entirely because of the monster presence he’s built on Facebook. In the months since his emotional tribute on FB for his good friend and Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker who died in a car crash, Diesel has seen his Facebook presence vault from an already whopping 54M likes to 72.3M, according to RelishMix, which tracks social-media engagement by TV shows, films and performers. And in six months, his following has jumped 46%.
Unlike Kimmel and Fallon, Diesel has no team to manage his social profile. He does it entirely on his own. “Vin is a very unique case in that he curates that himself and the voice is authentic and all the posts seem real because they are real,” says Michael Moses, co-president of marketing at Universal Pictures. “He doesn’t have a social-media team. He maintains that. He has an authentic relationship with his fans.” Moses calls it “a higher level of commitment and engagement.” Read More »
ABC‘s World News With Diane Sawyer posted a video touting the fact it hit 1 million Facebook “likes” and is the only broadcast network newscast that’s grown this season to date in the news demo. NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams is up 5% season to date among ages 18-49 while remaining flat in the older 25-54 news demo. Conversely, Sawyer’s newscast is up 4% in the news demo and flat among 18-49ers. CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley is up 7% in overall viewers but down 5 % in the news demo and 3% with the younger group. Williams newscast is up 8% in total viewers and Sawyer’s is up 3%. Yes, counterintuitively, more people are watching broadcasts evening news this TV season, including an average of 9.52 million watching Williams, 8.34 million watching Sawyer, and 7.27 million watching Pelley. In the news demo, Williams remains the front-runner, standing firm at 2.4 million 25- to 54-year-old viewers; Sawyer’s now up to 2.19 million and Pelley is clocking 1.81, season to date. Read More »
If you want better privacy and security, you’d better pay for it instead of relying on ad-financed search, social media and other online companies most of us use, said a SXSW Interactive Conference panel featuring Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst making his first public video appearance since he blew the whistle on massive U.S. government surveillance. Snowden, still living in an undisclosed Russian location while he seeks asylum, took part in the panel long distance by way of a Google+ Hangout chat room. The irony of using such a free service while criticizing Google’s data security was not lost on Snowden or the ACLU specialists who joined him on the panel. The event has been criticized by politicians including Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He wrote a letter to SXSW last week urging the fest to uninvite Snowden, saying his inclusion rewarded him and “undermines the very fairness and freedom that SXSW and the ACLU purport to foster.” The appearance went off without a hitch.
Snowden — perhaps predictably for a long-time computer specialist — focused his remarks today on the technical and legal tools that could protect an average user from mass surveillance. Snowden said putting those protections in place, both in how government oversight works and in how we use our favorite online services, is essential to the Internet’s long-term viability. ”This is a global issue,” Snowden said. “(The U.S. mass-surveillance efforts are) setting fire to the future of the Internet. And the people in this room now, you’re all the firefighters. Changes in technical standards can make mass surveillance more expensive and less practical.” Read More »
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s Executive Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom examine whether Facebook paid too much with its $19 billion purchase of messaging service WhatsApp, ponder whether anyone should pay for the maker of blockbuster mobile game Candy Crush Saga now that it’s filed for an IPO, consider the impact of the FCC’s replacement net-neutrality rules and look at the real motivations behind the clamor for Google Fiber.
The Davids also look at the possible futures of both John Malone and Time Inc. after some very interesting news this week from both.
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That’s the question investors are struggling to answer this morning as they recover from the shocking news last night that Facebook agreed to pay $16B (or $19B if you include some restricted stock) for WhatsApp. Analysts like the broad appeal of the messaging service which uses the Internet, as opposed to phone networks, to easily work with different platforms at a low cost — it can take the place of Apple’s iMessage, Google Hangouts, and Blackberry BBM. An average of 450M people used WhatsApp in December, and the number is growing at a rate of 1M a day. (It’s free for the first year, and costs 99 cents a year after that.) But the service would have to generate $1B a year in cash flow to justify the price tag, and “few data-points to support such an assumption were provided by the company, as evidently few are available,” Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser says. It’s not clear how much cash it can generate: Execs said last night that they won’t sell ads on WhatsApp. As a result, “it is not hard to come up with plausible assumptions that suggest the price is 50% too high…or too low,” says Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner. While he says it was strategically sound for Facebook to take the gamble, the deal also suggests a potentially worrisome degree of self-doubt — that the company didn’t think it could replicate WhatsApp’s success for less than $19B. Others who feel warmer about the acquisition say that other metrics justify the high price. Read More »
Facebook shares are down in after-hours trading after it announced the startling stock and cash deal for the mobile messaging service — the biggest acquisition it has ever made. The companies say that the combo will help them “bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says WhatsApp “is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable.” Facebook plans to keep WhatsApp’s “core messaging product” and Facebook’s Messenger separate for now. “Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing,” WhatsApp says in a blog post. Facebook also will maintain WhatsApp’s brand and keep its headquarters in Mountain View, CA. Co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will join Facebook’s board. The companies expect the deal to close later this year. If it doesn’t, then Facebook will have to pay a break-up fee of $1B in cash, and give WhatsApp $1B worth of its stock. The $16B price suggests that What’sApp is just $1.5B less valuable than Sony, based on its market cap, and more than twice as valuable as Gannett or Pandora. The purchase price consists of $4B in cash and $12B in Facebook shares. In addition, Facebook has agreed to give $3B in restricted stock units to WhatsApp’s founders and employees. They will vest over four years after the deal closes. This is believed to be the biggest deal yet for a start-up backed by a venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital. It says on a blog post that “WhatsApp has tapped into our insatiable appetite for personal communication. It is part of a chain that over the past 150 years reaches from the Pony Express, Telegraph and airmail letter to the telephone and email.” The messaging firm has just 32 engineers, and has an uptime of more than 99.9% “so users can rely on WhatsApp the way they depend on a dial-tone.”
Here’s the release: Read More »
Skeptics who believe that teens are starting to abandon Facebook should find another day to make that argument. The results in the just-released Q4 report look good — contributing to a 7% jump in the post-market share price. The social network company generated $520M in net income in the last three months of 2013, up 717% vs the period last year, on revenues of $2.59B, +63.1%. The top line beat the $2.34B that analysts expected. Adjusted earnings per share, at 31 cents, also topped predictions for 27 cents. Ad sales were up 76% to $2.34B, with 53% of the total coming from mobile ads — a big jump from last year when they accounted for 23% of the total. The number of daily active users was up 22% to 757M vs the end of 2012. The growing company also had growing expenses: They amounted to $1.5B in Q4, +37% which the company attributes to the rising headcount and infrastructure expenses. All told “it was a great end to the year for Facebook,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg says. “We’re looking forward to our next decade and to helping connect the rest of the world.”
Here’s how the results look: Read More »
When Fox confirmed recently that AT&T, which had been one of the main sponsors of the singing competition since Season 2, will not return for the current 13th season, the move appeared to be a sign of the times. Phoning and texting, the primary way of audience voting a decade ago, have been pushed out by online voting, which American Idol has been doing for the past couple of seasons. Now the show has brought in Internet juggernauts Google and Facebook to handle voting this season and is introducing real-time results — months before the premiere of Rising Star on ABC, whose format is built around that. As part of the new partnerships, voting on Idol will begin at the beginning of the live shows as opposed to after the broadcast as was the practice for the first 12 seasons.
Google will provide an online voting platform that allows viewers to cast votes directly from Google Search. Meanwhile, Facebook will give on-air voting progress updates based on real-time East Coast voting data during select live shows. That will include demographic voting trends and relative contestant rankings. While not exactly mirroring Rising Star‘s model of contestants being able to see their voting tally as they perform, Idol is jumping in front of the trend of reporting voting as it happens in real time. One of Rising Star‘s biggest challenges has been incorporating Mountain and Pacific time zones in … Read More »
Deadline Financial Editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom talk with Chris DeWolfe, CEO of SGN Games and former CEO and co-founder of MySpace, about the very big and very quickly evolving businesses of online video games and social media. The Davids also talk about the creepy-cool future of TV that is just around the corner and why Ernst & Young thinks most of Hollywood isn’t ready for it; and the maturation into major players by two long-time little guys, Lionsgate, which is offering its first quarterly dividend, and Hulu, which generated $1 billion in revenues in 2013
Deadline Big Media episode 64 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media episode 64 (.M4A version)
The .M4A version of this podcast is designed to run on any device using Apple’s iTunes software, and includes enhanced graphics and links to stories and other resources. The .MP3 version of this podcast is designed to play on virtually any device capable of playing digital audio.
To hear past episodes of “Deadline Big Media,” go here. You can also subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, on Deadline’s SoundCloud page, and on the iOS app AGOGO. If you are using non-iTunes software to listen to the podcast with “podcatcher” software, you can … Read More »
After several delays, the social media company formally introduced its potentially controversial video ad plan this morning — which helped Facebook shares rise about 2% in early trading, touching a new high of $55.18. “Without having to click or tap play, videos come to life in News Feed and start playing without sound,” Facebook says. The initiative, officially billed as a test, will start with promos for Lionsgate’s upcoming film, Divergent. Facebook says that people who aren’t interested can scroll past the ad while those who click on it will see the video play in a full screen with sound. When it’s over, viewers will see a carousel with access to two additional videos. Facebook says that mobile users don’t have to worry that the ads will eat into their data usage: They’ll be downloaded in advance when the smartphone or tablet has a WiFi connection. This still a work in progress. The company will “continue to refine this new way for brands to tell stories on Facebook to ensure the best experience for people and marketers.” Read More »
Here’s a news item some Facebook users won’t like: The social networking giant has frozen an unspecified number of accounts until those users to change their passwords and answer a few security questions. The lockout affects folks who used the same login info for Facebook and Adobe, and those users will see a prompt next time they try to sign in on Facebook. The Mark Zuckerberg-led company is mining data password leaked after hackers broke into Adobe and jacked encrypted credit card records from nearly 3 million customers as well as login data for many Adobe accounts. If you see this prompt next time you want to update your profile selfie or comment on a cat video, you’re one of the unlucky many:
The post-market rally in Facebook shares collapsed like a souffle after the company made the disclosure in a conference call with analysts. The stock price was up about 15% after it released strong Q3 earnings. But the price is now virtually flat after CFO David Ebersam said the company had seen a drop in use among young teens. “Our best analysis on youth engagement in the U.S. reveals that usage of Facebook among U.S. teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3, but we did see a decrease in daily users, specially among younger teens.” Although he considers the data of “questionable statistical significance,” he added that he “wanted to share this with you now since we get a lot of questions about teens.” Indeed, early this month investment firm Piper Jaffray said in its “Taking Stock With Teens” survey that “the popularity of Facebook is waning among teens, with 23% citing it as the most important [social media platform], down from 33% six months ago and 42% a year ago.” That seemed to contradict CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s comment to analysts in July that while “there has been a lot of speculation reporting that fewer teens are using Facebook,” company data showed that it “just isn’t true. … We believe that we’re close to fully penetrated in the U.S. teen demographic for a while and the number of teens using Facebook on both … Read More »
The stock’s up 14%+ in initial post-market trading after the social media company surprised the Street with its basic Q3 financials — revenues and profits — and with strong results in mobile use and ad sales. Facebook reported Q3 net income of $425M, up from last year’s loss of $59M, on revenues of $2.0B, +59.8%. The top line beat expectations for $1.9B. And adjusted net income at 25 cents a share exceeded forecasts for 19 cents. Facebook says that it had an average of 728M daily active users in September, up 25% vs last year– and 1.19B monthly active users, +18%. Ad revenues rose 66% to $1.8B. Many investors are still eager to see how Facebook does on smartphones and tablets, where there’s little screen space for ads. They’ll likely be impressed by the company’s revelation that mobile accounted for 49% of ad sales and that about 73% of the monthly users at the end of September accessed Facebook on a mobile device. “The strong results we achieved this quarter show that we’re prepared for the next phase of our company, as we work to bring the next five billion people online and into the knowledge economy,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.
Facebook Says It’s Losing Young Teens
Is Facebook Failing Marketers?
Forrester Research’s Nate Elliott makes that explosive charge in a new report and open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that has rattled the company and many of its investors ahead of its Q3 earnings report tomorrow. Shares are down about 4% over the last two days after Elliott said that “while lots of marketers spend lots of money on Facebook today, relatively few find success.” The problem: The social media giant “has quietly become almost entirely reliant upon Web 1.0-style display ads and simplistic targeting.” He reached his conclusion after looking at the opinions of 395 interactive marketers and eBusiness pros who Forrester surveyed in August. “Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunity” including word-of-mouth marketing, branded blogs, online display ads, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter, Elliott says. The company “teases marketers with the promise that it will better connect them to their customers.” But Facebook only shows a company’s ads to 16% of the people who click the “like” button on the brand’s Facebook page. What’s more, fewer than 15% of ads on Facebook are targeted to relevant audiences. Elliott urged Facebook to stop “littering the right side of its pages with dating site or malpractice lawyer ads” and let users choose favorite brands. Facebook “should be more concerned about death by a thousand cuts,” he says. “Smart brands will realize, campaign by campaign, that there are better ways to spend their money.” Read More »