Why the Russia ad scandal could actually be a win for Facebook

JP Mangalindan
Senior Correspondent
Facebook’s recent headaches could actually be a stark reminder for marketers. Source: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Facebook (FB) has made headlines recently over revelations that Russia used the social network to meddle with the U.S. presidential election last year. But for marketers, those revelations could have the unintended consequence of being a major draw.

RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney told Yahoo Finance the impact of Russian-linked ads on the presidential election serves as a stark reminder for marketers of Facebook’s clout. It’s the the third-most trafficked website in the world, according to web traffic site Alexa.

“It’s almost like, ‘Facebook is so influential that someone can manipulate it and use it to influence an election? Wow, that’s got to be a powerful marketing platform,’ ” Mahaney offered.

Mahaney added he hasn’t seen any material impact on advertisers’ interest in Facebook based on internal marketing surveys conducted by RBC Capital Markets every six months.

Last week, Facebook acknowledged that an estimated 10 million users of the social network saw ads purchased by a Russian company to influence U.S. politics. A Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch those ads appeared to exploit racial and social divisions, as well as ugly stereotypes.

Mahaney also predicted that the negative headlines won’t hinder Facebook’s stellar financial run, which includes 16 consecutive quarters of mid-double-digit revenue growth. He also maintained an “outperform” rating on Facebook’s stock and predicted the social network will generate $39.9 billion in 2017 revenues, largely from advertising — an estimate that remains unchanged in light of Facebook grabbing some negative headlines.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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