Facebook Trumps YHOO, MSFT On Display Ad Serving — But Not Revenue

As the latest outburst of angst about Facebook’s privacy settings rages on, the social net is also burning up the display ad serving rankings. During the first three months of 2010, Facebook served 176.3 billion display ads on its site, or 16.2 percent of the total, the WSJ reports, citing comScore (NSDQ: SCOR) data being released next week. The social net’s numbers are even more impressive when compared with Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), which served 131.6 billion banner ads to across Yahoo’s portal, and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), which delivered 60.2 billion display impressions during that period.

As we noted last week, research from content monitor Attributor showed that Yahoo’s ad serving share has shrunk, but like its revenues, a closer look shows why these figures don’t tell the whole story.

For one thing, the WSJ notes, comScore’s numbers leave out ads that Yahoo and Microsoft distributed across syndicated sites, which contributes a great deal of those sites’ display revenues. Facebook reportedly brought in $500 million in revenue last year and is slated to double that. Meanwhile, Yahoo had $6.5 billion in online ad revenue last year, while Microsoft’s was about $3 billion.

Although Facebook is still way behind both Yahoo and Microsoft in terms of ad revenues, its growth shows no signs of slowing. And it also boasts rising “engagement” figures in terms of users’ time spent on the site. All of which has helped it attract some first-time major advertisers, including Ford, Verizon and Toyota.

The comScore data matches previous measurements from Nielsen, another measurement firm, which said that Facebook’s share of the U.S. display market was 20 percent by the end of April 2010 — a significant leap from the 2 percent the same time last year. And like comScore, Nielsen doesn’t include the impressions served by Yahoo through syndication. Neverthless, it shows Yahoo in the lead when it comes to ad serving, with 34 percent of all display ads, which represents a slight decline in last year’s 35 percent share.

In total, comScore figures show that display ad impressions rose 16.5 percent to 1.1 trillion in Q1, which is just another sign that after being written off for the past two years, display is making a comeback, even if the lion’s share is starting to shift from the portal sites to Facebook.