According to figures released today by the singularly focused blog Inside Facebook, the ubiquitous social network made upwards of $700 million in 2009 and is expected to reach a phenomenal $1 billion in revenues in 2010.
Year over year, Facebook’s revenues have typically doubled, from $150 million in 2007 to around $300 million in 2008 and so on. The breakdown of revenue streams is fascinating, showing the extent to which well-targeted ads based on massive amounts of user data still drives how we monetize the Web.
These data also show how much some have underestimated the market for virtual goods and the real-world value of virtual currency – as much as $10 million in 2009 alone, still in beta and just for one social network.
Last year, brand advertising and performance advertising are estimated to have netted $225 million and $350 million for the company, respectively. Microsoft ads alone brought in $50 million.
All this cash flow makes the $10 million Facebook earned from its still-in-beta Facebook Credits system seem puny. We wonder how much this figure will increase when Credits are rolled out for all users and all applications.
A common rumor about Credits is that this virtual currency will become the mandatory, de facto method of purchasing virtual goods – from Gifts to in-game accessories – on Facebook. If that were to happen, Facebook (which takes a 30 percent cut of all Credits revenue) stands to make a great deal more than $10 million as it takes on the role of virtual currency exchange.
Facebook has stated it will not comment on these figures or speculation about future revenues. However, it is completely clear that this company has found a way to make the Web dramatically profitable. They’ve done so by honing their revenue streams, getting creative with brands, tweaking their UX to maximize time and money spend on the site and targeting ads based on user data. And these revenues will only continue to grow as Facebook edges out competing networks for users’ attention and brands’ ad spend.