ADOTAS -If I had a quarter for every time I heard a rumor about an imminent Facebook IPO, I wouldn’t be a rich man but I could certainly take a few dozen loads to the laundromat. I attributed the latest IPO gossip stirfry as a method of deflecting attention from Facebook’s reported loss of 6 million users in the U.S. last month, which suggests Facebook’s domestic growth has reached its peak or just temporarily stalled with the summer heat.
Except that report wasn’t real accurate — not according to everyone else’s numbers. comScore reports Facebook, the fourth largest U.S. web property with 157.2 million uniques in May, gained 3.2 million visitors last month to hit an all-time high. Nielsen reported that uniques increased by 4.7% in May, but average time on the site slipped by 0.8%.
Whoa, you say — didn’t Inside Facebook’s user figures come from tracking ads viewed within the social network? Why yes, but they didn’t include mobile usage as ads aren’t shown in Facebook apps or on the mobile website, an actual Facebook insider told Business Insider Editor Henry Blodgett. This source also suggested mobile usage increases in the summer when the kids apparently aren’t accessing the social network from school computers. (Do schools allow that now? Man, in my day we were screamed at for using ICQ Messenger.)
Blodgett echoes Adotas’ sentiment from the other day — Facebook already counts around half the U.S. population as users. The social network only has so much more room to actually expand in this country. While Blodgett suggests time on site (which Nielsen reported a dip in) and overall engagement are becoming better metrics for judging Facebook’s performance, I suggested looking at the age of new users — if the young’ens aren’t coming aboard as soon as they hit the minimum age, then Facebook’s social revolution might be petering out.
But the most important takeaway from this kerfuffle is that if mobile usage is increasing at such a rapid pace, where are the ads? Especially ones that could offer location-based targeting? Isn’t that what Facebook’s cadre of local advertisers crave? Facebook shouldn’t be worried about losing online impressions, but figuring out how to monetize mobile usage, which is only going to increase. It’s a goldmine waiting to be discovered.