Facebook continues to amass a non-trivial portion of the internet across its portfolio of applications — today saying that Instagram, a photo-sharing app it acquired for around $1 billion at the time in 2012, has 300 million monthly active users.
Facebook now has either built or bought several apps that have collected hundreds of millions of daily users. It also purchased WhatsApp for what was $19 billion at the time, which was last reported to have more than 600 million monthly active users.
Since forcing users to download a separate messenger application, the company said it has 500 million people using Facebook messenger. Most recently, Facebook built a standalone application for Groups, which the company said has more than 700 million people using it every month. Collectively pieced together, Facebook's fiefdom of the internet is rapidly growing beyond a billion users to basically begin reaching saturation point for the overall population of people connected to the internet.
Instagram, increasingly, is justifying its $1 billion price tag — with many in the Valley whispering that the price was actually cheap, in retrospect, given the growth and engagement the photo app commands. In addition to the 300 million monthly active users it has disclosed, Instagram has become a popular tool for photographers that are building audiences large enough that allow them to quit their day jobs and focus on that. That drives a virtuous growth cycle, bringing more users into Instagram and encouraging those users to create high-quality photos.
"It's a significant increase," Rob Fishman, co-founder of Niche, a service that connects popular Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine users to potential brands for advertising campaigns, told BuzzFeed News. "Especially for advertisers, who are looking beyond traditional display (last week, Google admitted 56% of all display ads are never seen by a human!). Instagram's fast-growing user base has always been hyper-engaged, and now there's scale there too."
Instagram is also rolling out verified badges for public officials and brands, and is going to crack down on spam and fake accounts, the company said.
Instagram has also attracted developers who are interested in building services and products that tie in with the photo-sharing app — something that, initially, helped drive a lot of adoption of Facebook. Here's a snapshot of several services featured on ProductHunt, which aggregates new products that the community can rank by voting:
And with that usage comes monetization. In the case of Instagram, the company began running sponsored ads last year. In the span of a few short years, Facebook has built a mobile advertising business that generated more than $2 billion, according to the company's most recent earnings report, as a result of its growing News Feed and mobile app ads.
"As more people join, keeping Instagram authentic is critical — a place where real people share real moments," Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said as part of the announcement.
That means that Instagram, too, has become another application in Facebook's portfolio that has surpassed Twitter in terms of usage. The company said it had 284 million monthly active users as part of its most-recent earnings report, with 80% of those users coming from mobile devices. Twitter, with that user base, has gone on to build an advertising business that's expected to pass $1 billion in revenue annually.
"Instagram's ad business is still very new and has a lot of growing up to do," eMarketer principle analyst Debra Williamson said. "For example, its targeting capabilities are still very limited, but the company's new authentication initiatives send a message to the ad community that their followers will be real entities and that the impressions they receive will not be fakes or bots."