While this rare feat stirred up much excitement, it also underscored that Facebook has in some ways maxed out its market penetration potential, sending it on its way to exhausting its mainstay ad-growth avenues.
Recognizing this, outgoing CFO David Ebersman cautioned to analysts during the call that as comps become more difficult, Facebook continues to expect its year-over-year ad revenue growth rates will decline from the first-quarter rate and be meaningfully lower by the end of 2014.
Gartner research director Brian Blau says that Facebook user fatigue has definitely already kicked, though it's happening in cycles. In the U.S., where many of the users were among the first adopters of Facebook, usage is really slowing down. The next wave of users are in many of the emerging markets, where fascination with the social media platform has just starting to kick in and usage still has a lot of room to grow. But in a few years' time, enthusiasm is also expected to wane there.
"Because Facebook is not really increasing the amount of ad inventory, while ad prices may be able to go up a little bit, there's going to be a certain ceiling that they're going to hit," said Blau. "And even if they have the ability to grow, it's going to be in a market where the users are not going to be as valuable, where the ARPUs (average revenue per user) aren't going to be as high as they are for example here in the United States."