Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported its Q1 2018 results, with the total revenue clocking in at $31.1 billion — up 26% from the same quarter last year. The company’s net income stood at $9.4 billion for this quarter. For comparison, Alphabet reported $23.3 billion in revenue and a $3 billion loss in net income last quarter due to the US tax bill.
Advertising is still king for Google
Alphabet’s revenue comes mainly from the Google ad business, which pulled in $26.6 billion in quarterly revenues, up 24%, compared to $21.4 billion in the same quarter last year. Advertising on Google’s own platforms (Search, Youtube etc.) brought in almost $22 billion (versus $17.4 billion in the same quarter last year). Advertising on other “network” sites brought in $4.6 billion in revenues, compared to just over $4 billion in the same quarter last year.
Despite concerns over privacy and certain unsavoury content on Youtube, there seems to have been no visible impact on the company’s core business. Paid ad clicks on Google’s own sites and apps (this number includes video ads watched on Youtube which aren’t exactly ‘clicks’) rose 59% YoY. This helped the company offset a 19% drop in cost per click, the result of mobile search and YouTube ad prices being lower on average than PC search ad prices.
Pichai tries to allay fears about GDPR
With targeted advertising being Alphabet and Google’s big cash cow there was some understandable apprehension among investors regarding Europe’s upcoming privacy legislation, the GDPR. Google CEO Sundar Pichai tried to quell investor fears on the possible impact by suggesting that Google is extremely well prepared and it will have little effect on the search advertising business. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is meant to give consumers more control of their data, will go into effect on May 25. Any company that breaches the new rules will be fined up to 4% of its annual global revenue, for Google that number will be in the billions.
“GDPR is a fairly new public topic, but for us it’s not new,” Pichai said. “We started working on GDPR compliance over 18 months ago and have been very, very engaged on it.” He added, “First of all, it’s important to understand that most of our ad business is search, where we rely on very limited information — essentially what is in the keywords — to show a relevant ad or product.”
As mentioned above Google’s own properties made up for $22 billion of ad revenue out of $26.6 billion total. What Pichai’s statement fails to address is the impact GDPR will have on the remaining $4.6 billion which mostly comes from Google Network Members. Google Network Members’ properties revenue largely comes from third-party sites that use its AdMob, AdSense or DoubleClick ad products to put ads on their websites. If a large number of European internet users opted out the ad targeting used in those tools, it could make them less useful for advertisers.
Alphabet’s big bet on Uber paid off handsomely
Alphabet reported the total value of its equity investments for the first time, revealing that it has gained about $3 billion on its investments in Uber and other companies. The company showed a one-time gain on equity securities of $3.03 billion from its portfolio, which CNBC speculates is mostly from its 2013 investment in Uber. At that time, the company put about $258 million into the ride-hailing company at a valuation of about $3.8 billion. Uber is now worth north of $60 billion.
What makes this more interesting is that Alphabet essentially made money off a company against whom it was recently embroiled in a high-profile lawsuit over driverless car tech.