paidContent 50: The world’s most successful digital media companies

11. Facebook

Social networks, United States (Private)

Last year’s rank: #10

Digital Content Revenue

$3,683,150,000 (99% of total)

Digital Snapshot

This was the year Facebook emerged as one of the really big boys, an advertising behemoth in its own right. Facebook’s IPO S-1 filing opened the kimono on a giant – $1 billion in 2011 profit and revenue that doubled in a year. Though 82 percent of that came from advertising, even Facebook’s own filing acknowledged that social network advertising remains unproven, and most advertisers are still experimenting. Which makes Facebook Payments, 80 percent of which came from Zynga games last year, all the more important as a second revenue stream.

Key Move

“All your stories, all your life.” Mark Zuckerberg told his annual F8 gathering users should share everything they’re doing. “No activity is too big or too small to share.” So frictionless sharing lets third-party services capture user data and feed it back out as behavioural feeds. It’s multiplied visibility for brands like The Guardian and Spotify, and annoyed many users in the process. But they will likely get over it; as with any Facebook update, they usually do.

Our Methodology

Facebook made $3,154,000,000 from ads and $557,000,000 from Facebook Payments in 2011, according to its S-1 IPO filing. Zynga games made up 80 percent of the latter; we would say such media and content payments also make up 15 of the remaining 20 percent.
Source: S-1 IPO filing

— RA