Facebook's efforts on smaller screens are paying off big.
More than half a billion Facebook users access the site only from mobile devices, Facebook revealed as part of an earnings presentation Wednesday. The social network has 1.19 billion total mobile monthly active users, as of the end of 2014, up 26% year-over-year.
All that mobile traffic has meant a big advertising windfall for Facebook. The company made $3.59 billion from advertising overall in the fourth quarter of 2014, and 69% of that came from mobile ads rather than their desktop cousins. That means Facebook made nearly $2.5 billion on mobile ads in three months—a 53% improvement year-over-year. It was also the first quarter Facebook's mobile ad revenue beat the $2 billion mark.
Strong mobile numbers like these are vital for Facebook and other companies with ad-based business models. Internet users are increasingly flocking from browsing on PCs, where banner ads have long reigned, to using mobile browsers and apps, where traditional online ads haven't worked as well.
Facebook and companies like it have been working hard to figure out how to adjust and make mobile ads that will actually click. The latest of Facebook's mobile experiments is a platform launched in October that lets brands tap into the social giant's vast troves of user data to advertise to Facebook users while they're in other apps.
As an example, a Facebook user playing Candy Crush might get served up an in-game ad for toothpaste based on the user's Facebook activity. Advertisers benefit from getting access to Facebook's data, while Facebook increases its ad revenue without putting more ads on its own products. While Facebook's fourth-quarter numbers are clearly evidence the company's own mobile app is doing just fine, they're also a sign this new network is off to a speedy start.