Facebook’s 2018 Year in Review

And What to Expect for Usage, Advertising and Privacy in 2019

About This Report
As 2018 nears its end, we are looking back at what happened with Facebook usage, monetization and data privacy over the past year, as well as forward into what changes 2019 may bring.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Facebook has had a tumultuous year. With the end of 2018 in sight, we’re looking back at major milestones in terms of usage, monetization and data privacy on Facebook, as well as Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. We are also looking forward into what marketers need to know in 2019.

  • Have data privacy and security issues caused people to leave Facebook? Cambridge Analytica did not trigger a mass departure from Facebook, and it’s unlikely that the September security breach will either. Overall, we expect there will be 1.64 billion Facebook users worldwide in 2018 and 1.75 billion in 2019. That said, there are indications that user engagement will slow.
  • Have advertisers pulled spending from Facebook? Some advertisers temporarily pulled spending after Cambridge Analytica, and others threatened to do so after the revelations by The New York Times. But we still expect Facebook’s global ad revenues to rise by 36.3% to $54.44 billion in 2018. Growth will be slower in 2019, but that’s more due to increased competition for ad budgets and market saturation.
  • What changes did Facebook make to its ad products in 2018, and what can we expect in 2019? Changes to Facebook’s ad products include the closure of Partner Categories, the launch of an ad archive for political ads, as well as Facebook Stories ads and in-stream video ads. In 2019, marketers can expect to see increased emphasis on ads on Facebook’s other properties, particularly Instagram.
  • What are some of the big questions for Facebook in 2019? What will the shift from public to private sharing mean for the feed? Will the launch of Facebook Watch and IGTV make Facebook a major contender in the over-the-top (OTT) video market? And can Facebook improve its image and regain eroding consumer trust?

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report provides an overview of the key developments in 2018 on Facebook’s four properties: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. It also digs into what marketers should expect in 2019.

KEY STAT: According to our latest forecast, Facebook will generate an average of $27.84 in ad revenues per worldwide user in 2018 and $30.28 in 2019.

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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. 2018 Review
  3. Three Big-Picture Questions for Facebook in 2019
  4. Usage
  1. Video and Time Spent on Facebook
  2. Monetization
  3. Ad Targeting, Transparency and Measurement
  4. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

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Read This With Insider Intelligence


Jasmine Enberg


Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager