Google+ Network Hits 90m Users As Earnings Miss Forecast

Google+ has reached 90 million users as the search engine giant revealed it has missed its financial targets

Google has posted its forth quarter financial results and shocked the markets after it missed Wall Street’s targets.

The search engine giant reported revenue of $8.13 billion (£5.2bn) on earnings per share of $9.50 (£6.12). And profits grew to $2.71 billion (£1.7bn) from $2.54 billion (£1.6bn) a year ago.

However Wall Street had been looking for sales of $8.43 billion (£5.4bn) and $10.51 (£6.77) earnings per share, and reacted accordingly. Shares of Google fell 10 percent to $575 (£370) in after-hours trading 19 January.

Amazing Experiences

Google may have disappointed some investors with its numbers, but it offered a piece of great news for social media addicts.

Google+, the company’s six-month-old social-network challenger to Facebook, now has 90 million users worldwide. That’s up from the 40 million Google+ users Google CEO Larry Page announced during the company’s Q3 earnings report in October.

Page offered this comment pumping up Google’s progress via press statement after the bell:

Google had a really strong quarter ending a great year. Full-year revenue was up 29 percent, and our quarterly revenue blew past the $10 billion (£6.4bn) mark for the first time. I am super-excited about the growth of Android, Gmail, and Google+, which now has 90 million users globally – well over double what I announced just three months ago. By building a meaningful relationship with our users through Google+ we will create amazing experiences across our services.

Those “amazing experiences” presumably include a broad, deep integration of Google+ into existing Google services. Google, for example, recently moved to make search more personal by injecting Google+ posts and photos in search results that are tailored to each user.

This effort, Search, plus your world, has been criticised for favouring Google content over that of other Internet companies. The company has also integrated the network with Gmail, YouTube and other services, and launched brand pages.

Advertising Figures

Search experts expect Google will eventually uses its huge mine of data on users to find a way to sell advertising against Google+.

Meanwhile, Google’s Q4 traffic acquisition costs (TAC), or the money it pays to advertisers for traffic, totalled $2.45 billion (£1.6bn), or 24 percent of the company’s ad revenue. With TAC, Google reported revenue of $10.58 billion (£6.8bn) for Q4, a 25 percent boost from Q4 2010.

Paid clicks, or those clicks related to ads served on Google sites and network partners, increased 34 percent from the year-ago quarter, and 17 percent over Q3 2011. However, average cost per click dropped 8 percent from Q4 2010 and Q3 2011, which explains in part why Google missed earnings expectations.

Google closed the quarter with $44.6 billion (£29bn) in cash and a full-time employee head count of 32,467, up from 31,353 workers in the previous quarter.