Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has four platforms that now have over 1 billion monthly active users (MAUs): Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Instagram was the last to hit that milestone, which happened just last month. For social networks, user statistics are among the most important business goals for investors to keep an eye on, but Facebook only provides regular information about user statistics for its core Facebook platform.
The other three platforms tend to announce only when they hit certain milestones, rather than giving investors regular updates. Getting regular updates is much more useful to shareholders, as they can better assess the health of the platform in question, and better detect any positive or negative trends with the granular detailing. Ideally, Facebook will provide user statistics for all of the platforms when it publishes quarterly results, but it does not seem likely anytime soon.
The good news is that Facebook just introduced a brand new user metric for investors to investigate, although it is not clear if Facebook will publish it regularly.
"Family Friendly Audience"
On Revenue Call Wednesday night, CEO Mark zuckerberg said Facebook is revealing for the first time the number of users who can access any of the four services at least once a month, which is 2.5 billion. He explained two reasons why this metric is more useful:
This number reflects our society for several reasons. First, it refers to individuals instead of active accounts, so it excludes when people have multiple active accounts on a single app. And it reflects that many people use more than one of our services, and [CFO Dave Wehner] will explain this a little later later .
Here's what Wehner said later in the conversation:
As Mark mentioned, We also introduce a wide range of audiences. 2.5 billion people worldwide used one of our applications in June. This is our best estimate of our deducted audience on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. We believe that this number better reflects the size of our community and the fact that many people use more than one of these services.
Note that for Facebook, Facebook MAU compares multiple accounts for a single user when such accounts exist. And we estimate that they represent about 10% of our Facebook MAU as previously described in the Keyword Limitation section of our SEC archives. The families' audience metrics count only one user in these cases.
Wehner also noted that Facebook and Instagram are "really an advertising ecosystem" from a supply perspective, which also helps explain why the new "family-wide audience" metric is useful. Advertisers are most interested in the total range they have available to them, and the new figure deduplises users who can have multiple accounts across services.
It looks almost like Twitter since -abandoned "Total Targeting Strategy", but that's a big difference. Twitter's strategy was to include all users who see tweets (and ads), even if they are not logged in. Facebook's family targeting group represents users who are logged in and ad targeting is much stronger when Facebook knows who you are.  fool.insertScript ("# ~";
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