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Here's how big Facebook's ad business really is

June 30, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Each day, more household names join the list of brands suspending advertising on Facebook to protest what they say are the social network's failures to stop the spread of hate. On Monday alone, Adidas, HP, and Ford added their names to a list that already had Unilever, The North Face, Coca Cola, Honda and many others.

Facebook generated $69. 7 billion from advertising in 2019, more than 98% of its total revenue for the year.

And most of those ad dollars don't come from companies like Starbucks (SBUX) and Coca Cola so much as the sprawling list of small and medium-sized businesses who use Facebook to attract customers and build their brands.

Facebook has 8 million advertisers, it said earlier this year.

Of those, the highest-spending 100 brands accounted for $4. 2 billion in Facebook advertising last year, according to data from marketing research firm Pathmatics -- or only about 6% of the platform's ad revenue.

The last time Facebook shared that data itself was in April 2019, when COO Sheryl Sandberg said the top 100 advertisers represented "less than 20%" of total ad revenue.

For all of Facebook's splashy investments in artificial intelligence and virtual reality products, the company -- like many of its peers in Silicon Valley -- remains an advertising business at heart.

And as recently as this January, months before the current ad boycott, some of the world's biggest advertisers called on Facebook and other tech companies to do more to prevent ads appearing next to violent content and hate speech.

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