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Three Things We Want to See From Facebook Earnings (But Probably Won't)

Give us more, Zuck!

Kurt Wagner for Re/code

Since it went public three years ago, quarterly earnings have become fairly routine around Facebook headquarters.

The company delivers more users, more mobile ad revenue and substantial year-over-year revenue growth each and every quarter. So it’s no surprise, then, that analysts are expecting more of the same from Facebook when it reports its Q1 financial results Wednesday afternoon.

Consensus estimates peg Facebook revenue at $3.56 billion, up 42 percent year over year. RBC Capital’s Mark Mahaney expects user growth at 13 percent, substantial given Facebook is creeping up on 1.4 billion total users. Cantor Fitzgerald’s Youssef Squali is predicting nearly the same at 12.8 percent growth.

In other words, another Facebook-like quarter.

But there are a few things Facebook doesn’t like to talk about — things an analyst might ask but without a whole lot of luck. What will be missing from Facebook’s quarterly check-in? Here are a few things we’d love to hear (but almost certainly will not).

Facebook’s video numbers

The social network has made a huge push into video over the past year, so much so that comparisons to YouTube are certainly warranted. Facebook likes to talk about how much users are uploading and consuming video content, but those numbers are limited to total views, not audience size. It also doesn’t talk much about what video means for business, either.

Facebook generates three billion video views per day, but videos on Facebook play automatically. That makes it hard to determine how many people are actually choosing to sit and watch videos versus those being shown videos. It’s unlikely Facebook will break out the audience number, but it would be helpful in understanding where the company fits in with the competition.

It also doesn’t break out video ad revenue. Is Facebook stealing money away from TV ad budgets? How does it compare to YouTube, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, brought in $4 billion in revenue last year?

Video and video ads will be big for Facebook moving forward. But how big is still a bit of a mystery.

A revenue strategy for WhatsApp

WhatsApp is growing like a weed. It took only three months for the messaging app to grow from 700 million to 800 million monthly users, and there’s no reason to think it’ll start slowing down.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past he won’t try to monetize WhatsApp until it reaches a billion users. It’s a milestone that once seemed quite a way down the road. Not so much anymore. If WhatsApp keeps growing at its current rate, Facebook will have its second billion-user product by the end of the year, and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Zuckerberg decides to bring in some money from that user base.

Until now he hasn’t talked about how that might happen. Unfortunately, I think we’ll have to wait another quarter or two.

Instagram revenue

Instagram has been advertising for 18 months now, and while the service isn’t even close to offering the ad rate you might find on Facebook, seeing an Instagram ad in your feed is no longer rare. But despite more than 300 million users, Facebook has yet to disclose Instagram’s revenue numbers. Expect more of the same on Wednesday.

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