After months (if not years) of speculation Facebook finally filed for an initial public offering on Wednesday the 2nd of February 2012. The actual stock will be available to be snapped up in May.
Facebook has enjoyed meteoric growth, and will probably continue on this trajectory for a while longer; however, it is unlikely that it will be able to live up to the expectations that everyone has of it, including its creator and bosses. Facebook has the ability to generate an immense amount of pageviews, and I have experienced this first hand, when I set up a CPM ad campaign , and watched my budget go up in smoke within minutes (without resulting in enough clicks to even remotely justify the spending of any additional sums). Of course, this was a once-off experience, but it does illustrate the problem that Facebook has always had, and continues to have, and that is the fact that those using Facebook become increasingly blind to the ads the longer they use Facebook. I am signed onto Facebook every day, and don’t remember the last time I noticed an ad, much less the last time I clicked on one.
It has been widely reported that Facebook’s 2011 revenues were around $4.27 billion. There were also reports at the end of August of 2011 that Facebook’s monthly pageviews reached (or approached) 1 trillion per month. Assuming that Facebook had overall pageviews of 10 trillion during 2011, that would mean that its CPM revenue was a little over $0.425, which seems abysmally low for a company which is being hailed as one of the most (if not the most) powerful technology firms.
I was one of the late arrivals on Facebook—I created my account about 2.5 years ago, by then most of my friends had already been on Facebook for a while (some years, some months). During the first few months of my Facebook experience, I felt under attack by the stream of constant updates that everyone was making. Eventually, the barrage slowed down, and has now became a trickle. Having asked others, their experience is not unlike mine. As the novelty of Facebook wears off, and as people connect with the friends that they had lost contact with years ago, those relationships moves offline, or simply die off again.
Facebook’s valuation is predicted to come close or even surpass $100 billion. But I wonder if we are experiencing yet another MySpace-like implosion in slow-motion. Predictions, have a tendency to leave those who make them red-faced, so I’ll leave that to others, and watch intently.