Facebook’s ad sales have declined for four consecutive quarters, and revenue fell from $8.3 billion in the third quarter of 2016 to $6.2 billion in fiscal 2017, according to a new report by data analytics firm Branding Trends.
The decline in sales is the latest sign of the company’s struggles to stay relevant in an era when mobile has grown the most in history, and the company is facing increasing competition from Google and Apple in the online ad space.
Analysts polled by Bloomberg News expected the ad sales decline to be worse than Branding Trend’s numbers because the firm doesn’t have access to all of Facebook’s advertising data.
Facebook also has yet to disclose revenue for the quarter, which ended Sept. 30.
Still, Facebook said the decline was the most recent for the company in five years and said it has plans to improve its ad sales.
It will use analytics to improve the quality of ads, make it easier for advertisers to target people and improve the design of its ads, the company said.
The company is also working on tools to make it easy for advertisers and other companies to use its advertising platform to better understand how people are using the site, it said.
“We are seeing an accelerating shift to digital advertising, with ads now appearing across a wider range of content and media, and we will continue to leverage this shift in digital advertising to drive long-term growth for Facebook,” Facebook Chief Financial Officer Brad Smith said in a statement.
Facebook also said it will spend $2 billion to buy the advertising technology firm Radium One, which has been tracking user behavior for years.
The deal is subject to regulatory approval and could be completed by the end of the year.