Should Facebook be paying you to log on?

New advertising figures suggest they should…

Peter Iantorno September 30, 2015

Do you ever catch yourself absent-mindedly scrolling through Facebook and then suddenly realise that you’re seeing just as many adverts as genuine posts from your friends and family?

It wouldn’t be a shock if you did, because as recent statistics from market research website eMarketer show, Facebook’s advertising revenue is forecast to increase by more than 20 per cent since last year, from $11.49 billion to a whopping $16.29 billion.

The average Facebook user now generates $12.76 in advertising revenue every year (up from $10.03 in 2014) and this figure is expected to skyrocket over the next few years, with forecasted earnings of $17.50 per user by 2017 leading to an astonishing estimated ad revenue just short of $27 billion. 

And it’s not just Facebook that’s raking in revenue from your browsing habits. Both Twitter and LinkedIn also earn reasonable amounts from advertising ($2.03 and $0.93 per user respectively), however they are still well short of undisputed king of social media ad revenue, Facebook.

And it seems as though Facebook’s hold over the social media advertising market is only going to get stronger, as a portion of the company’s explosive growth is set to be driven by Instagram (which Facebook acquired in 2012). While it is set to make a comparatively meagre $600 million in ad revenue this year, in 2016 money taken from advertising is expected to rise by almost 150 per cent to just under $1.5 billion.

So, what can we put the increased revenues down to? Well, there’s the astonishing worldwide usage of social media for one (the latest estimates put global Facebook users at around 1.5 billion).

There’s also the fact that social networks are finding more ways to show you adverts. While your feed might already seem pretty saturated with ads, with new products being developed all the time, there will always be more room for advertising.

But perhaps the most important factor is that advertisers are now willing to pay more to appear on social networks. Why? Because the likes of Facebook has access to such a lot of your personal information – location, occupation, hobbies, interests – that it can offer advertisers a very specific demographic of people and therefore provide a better targeted advert that is more likely to be taken up by the audience. 

So, should the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn be paying you to log on and browse? It's certainly an interesting thought, but while ever we so freely hand out our personal information in exchange for using social media, the more apt question is, why would they?