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What to Expect From Facebook Earnings? Lots and Lots of Mobile Ads.

Investors expect (a lot) more of the same from Facebook's Q4.

Vlad Teodor/ Shutterstock

Since Facebook started showing ads in its app more than two years ago, the social network has turned mobile advertising into a $5 billion-plus business.

Now, investors are looking for more of the same from the company during its fourth-quarter earnings call Wednesday. A lot more.


Analysts expect Facebook to have almost doubled mobile ad dollars from the same quarter last year, estimating growth between 85 percent and 100 percent, according to multiple estimates.

Mobile advertising represented just over half of all Facebook’s marketing dollars in the last quarter of 2013, and for the same period in 2014, analysts expect mobile ads to make up at least two-thirds of all ad revenue, making Facebook primarily a mobile ad company.

That makes sense given Facebook has spent the past few years preaching a “mobile first” approach, which means they claim to build all new products and services with mobile users as the target demographic. (This doesn’t always happen, though. Remember Graph Search?)

Part of the reason is that Facebook is planning to accumulate its next billion users through mobile devices, pulling in people from emerging markets like South America and Southeastern Asia where few people own desktop computers. Having a predominantly mobile user base means a predominantly mobile business strategy.

It’s one of the reasons the company supplemented its core Facebook product with other mobile services, like Instagram and WhatsApp.

WhatsApp isn’t making money yet, and doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to do so. Instagram, though, started ramping up its advertising efforts last year, and investors are still waiting to hear how those ads are performing. Facebook could break with tradition by sharing those numbers for the first time Wednesday.

Last quarter, Facebook surprised investors saying its spending in 2015 would be up as much as 70 percent, according to CFO David Wehner.

Just one month into the new year, Facebook has already made multiple acquisitions of both tech and talent. It will be notable if the company revises this number yet again.

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