Here is why Facebook will be worth more than $200B

In late 2010 I wrote a blog post about how Facebook could easily be worth $100B. Some of my colleagues called me up and did nothing short but claim that I must be crazy. That’s perfectly fine. I have a feeling that I’m going to get even more calls about this post. My rationale isn’t built up from an analyst’s financial model or from leveraging traditional market sizing techniques, it’s mostly based on intuition about how Facebook can become the key player in the world of Online marketing and advertising.

Google is the leader in performance and direct response advertising, converting users wants and needs to e-commerce transactions and sales leads. Facebook competes with Google on direct response and is becoming more and more effective in doing so by leveraging the Social and user’s click-stream data, capturing a growing portion of Google’s market.

However, Facebook’s untapped potential is actually in brand advertising, a space that currently has no clear winner and will account for almost half of total online advertising spending in 2015, according to e-marketer.

Brands already get it and are willing to pay; But Facebook hasn’t yet found the right model to fully incorporate them. The value of positive engagements between consumers and brands shared across the social space is hard to match, and Facebook will find ways to scale the monetization of that on across fan pages, ads and the newsfeed.

Analysts focus on revenues from ads delivered on, and Facebook has just started maximizing its potential there, but Facebook has not yet turned to monetize one of its greatest assets – the Open Graph.
Hundreds of millions of users are using Facebook’s open graph capabilities across million of websites (including most of the top sites in the world). More than 10,000 sites are adding the Open Graph capabilities each month. “Login with Facebook” is no longer an option – it’s a must.
Additionally, Facebook captures endless piles of data about people, their lives, and their friends. Think a lifetime worth of data and then multiple that by over 800 million users. Big Data indeed. This staggering amount of data will enable Facebook to deliver ad targeting capabilities which are unparalleled, optimizing performance and accuracy better than any marketing tool seen before. Whether this happens or not depends mostly on execution, not on the conceptual capability to deliver those tools. The data is there.

This all leads to Facebook having a unique opportunity to create an unparalleled display ad network outside of Facebook, adding social targeting to help drive up revenues. With this strategy, there is no reason why Facebook can’t control the same portion of the market in online branding as Google does with direct response. Facebook can eventually match Google ad revenues with a combination of brand and direct response ad products, inside and in many leading destination sites outside of Facebook. With other revenue streams, such as payments for virtual goods, Facebook can even outpace Google.

Compared to Google, Facebook’s business is potentially more defendable. In Search, Google dominance is driven by excellence in monetization, a powerful brand and great technology. However, Google does not “own” search, it just executes better than anybody else in the search world. as technology progresses Google’s tech advantage is becoming more incremental compared to some of its competitors, and can be potentially disrupted. It’s going to be crazy hard to disrupt Google, but it’s doable.

Facebook is not in the same boat. Social is already an inherent, must-have, layer in everything online – websites, mobile apps and smart TVs. Facebook “owns” Social, and in its dominance is driven by a powerful network affect. Technology is not the key driver here. Many can potentially try to create a social network service that outperforms or delivers more features than Facebook does, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that all your friends are on Facebook.
At this point in time, Disrupting Facebook requires more than a just better tech or flawless execution. It requires a paradigm shift to a whole new era of online computing, and even there it’s pretty safe to assume that Facebook will be all over the place.

So, whether it takes 12 month or 5 years, it’s pretty much inevitable – Facebook, as mission critical piece of our connected identity stack, will increasingly find ways to monetize its position and would be worth more than Google today at $200B.

One thought on “Here is why Facebook will be worth more than $200B

  1. Andy

    I think its a good post and you make a lot of good points in regards to branding advertising. There are obviously really big opportunities for facebook in the long run and it has to be seen how they execute on it but there are three major problems for them to reach a valuation as high as that:

    1. Users
    I have been using my fb since 2006 and so have most my friends. I would say about 20% of my friends still use facebook actively and about 50% very irregular and 30% basically dont use it anymore, it looks pretty much the same way as Google + if you log on for the last 80%. I think over time people get over facebook and use it very limited. If i post something its usually not my good friends that respond but more likely people I havent seen in a while and dont talk to all that frequently. Even if people keep on using it the usage over time should decrease either way.

    2. Mobile Devices
    People use facebook more and more on mobile devices. There isnt that much adspace on mobile devices and I dont think people purchase as much on a mobile phone. I never put in my credit card into my phone. If you think of google the reason why they make so much money is because they get high conversions so it makes it worth for companies. If you look at content network (which facebook can duplicate and be better at it) the CTR is very low and the conversion even lower. That being said brand advertising is still a big opportunity.

    3. User Saturation
    If you take the first point and think of the lifespan of a user and then think that facebook has a really big problem coming up. They have pretty much 100% of the users with a high disposable income on FB already so there is no growth here, however FB is not a necessity to have and from my own experience people just stop using it after a while.

    Bottom line for me is that Google is doing so well because its a necessary product you will always use, you will always look for things and search for things and when you do you usually want them. While facebook is more a nice to have and something to switch off when you look at it so you are not in a buying mood and you dont have to go there.


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