Instagram Makes More Ad Money Than YouTube1 min read

While YouTube leads in user engagement and visitation metrics, Instagram has consistently outperformed in a critical area: revenue generation. Recent disclosures from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reveal specific figures, showing that Instagram, a subsidiary of Meta (formerly Facebook), generated $32.4 billion in advertising revenue in 2021. This marks significant growth from $22 billion in 2020 and $17.9 billion in 2019.

Instagram’s contribution to Meta’s total advertising revenue increased from 26% in 2020 to 30% in 2022. Acquired by Mark Zuckerberg in 2012 for approximately $1 billion, Instagram has proven to be one of Meta’s most profitable investments, significantly bolstering its presence in the mobile market.

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Comparatively, YouTube, owned by Google, reported advertising revenues of $28.8 billion in 2021, $19.7 billion in 2020, and $15.1 billion in 2019. Notably, YouTube distributes 55% of its advertising revenue to its content creators, which contrasts with the smaller percentage shared by Instagram. This distribution model underscores Instagram’s higher relative contribution to Meta’s overall financial performance.

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Beyond advertising, YouTube has diversified its revenue streams through subscriptions, including YouTube Premium, paid streaming of films, and YouTube Music. In 2023, these subscription services generated $15 billion for Google. Conversely, Meta’s revenue primarily hinges on advertising, though Instagram recently introduced paid subscriptions for content creators, signaling a potential expansion into new revenue channels.

The release of these financial details by Meta aims to counteract a potential antitrust lawsuit from the FTC, which is investigating whether Meta’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp have stifled competition in the social media landscape to the detriment of consumers. In a scenario where Meta is compelled to divest Instagram, the platform’s substantial revenue figures underscore its value as a standalone entity.
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