An analyst shared an embarrassing piece of ad-industry gossip about Facebook, and it’s another sign the firm is no …

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
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An analyst has taken the unusual step of sharing some advertising-industry gossip about Facebook — and it’s probably the kind of thing the company would prefer to keep a lid on.

Respected media watchers over at the British analyst Liberum sent a note to clients claiming that Facebook’s UK advertising revenue may have fallen recently for the first time.

One caveat: It’s from one media-buying source and relates to one month’s worth of data, for June. Facebook declined to comment.

Liberum said it could be a sign that “Facebook’s woes are starting to impact advertising revenues.” Though it didn’t go into any material detail about these woes, it did mention so-called fake news. The analyst could also be referring to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the new GDPR privacy law, and election meddling.

Another theory Liberum posited is that advertisers diverted spending into TV because of the World Cup. The football tournament is an ad bonanza for commercial channels like ITV — all helped by England’s strong performance, as the team was cheered on by giant audiences of up to 27 million viewers.

Liberum’s information is not exactly contradicted by Facebook’s second-quarter earnings, which helped wipe a record $119 billion off the firm’s value in a single day.

The company’s $13.23 billion in revenue did not meet Wall Street expectations, while it warned of revenue growth rates falling by “high single digit” percentages in coming quarters. What’s more, Facebook’s monthly active users declined in Europe for the first time since at least 2009.

Though the latest news is unverified, the mere fact media buyers are even talking about Facebook in these terms is another signal the social network is not an untouchable rocket ship of growth.


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