Here we dive into the digital health of three major tech stocks: Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), and Microsoft (MSFT). What do the online trends reveal about these mega-caps? Using our powerful web traffic alternative data, we reveal the key digital insights heading into the print.
Let’s take a closer look at these internet giants:
Tech stock #1: Facebook, Inc.
Earnings date: July 28 after markets close (confirmed)
Facebook crushed first quarter 2021 earnings estimates. The impressive print was largely due to the climbing price of ads and volume – a 30% year-over-year (YoY) increase in average ad price plus a 12% rise in ad numbers. But does the social media giant have what it takes to put on a repeat performance?
For Q2, FB is guiding for its revenue growth rate to “remain stable or modestly accelerate relative to the growth rate in the first quarter of 2021.”
Encouragingly, in 2Q21, our data shows a notable spike in monthly unique visitors (MUVs) to the subdomain business.facebook.com, which can be used as an indicator of advertiser demand trends. On a YoY basis, unique visitors to this subdomain surged 48%, up from 30% in the first quarter.
Pro Tip:Monthly unique visitors is an indicator of monthly active users (MAUs) – a critical digital metric used to indicate the popularity, performance, and growth of a website.
If we focus on Facebook users to the main website facebook.com, the trends are less bullish. Global YoY growth for unique visitors came in at -11% for 2Q21, down from 0% in 1Q21. Unique visitors also dropped in absolute number terms quarter-to-quarter.
Interestingly, the slowdown was more pronounced globally than in the U.S. In the U.S., YoY unique visitor growth for the quarter came in at -6% (dropping from 0% in 1Q21). And in terms of numbers we actually saw an increase in unique visitors from Q1 to Q2.
Facebook audience engagement trends
For Facebook, audience engagement is a closely-watched metric, especially given its potential impact on advertiser interest. Our data shows that Q2 global visit duration pulled back 6% YoY (and was flat quarter-over-quarter) as people spend less time on the platform. For the U.S, that YoY figure was -10%, down from -9% last quarter.
But average pages per visit (another key signal of audience engagement) improved both globally and in the U.S, YoY. On a global basis, the YoY average number of pages visited during Q2 was -6%, up from -9% in Q1.
Tech stock #2: Twitter
Earnings date: July 22 after markets close (confirmed)
#Twitter is trending right now. Investors are excited about a slew of money-making initiatives. The live audio conversation feature, Twitter Spaces, and the company’s first ever subscription offering, Twitter Blue have both launched. Plus the company is accepting applications from U.S. users for limited tests of its other up-and-coming features – Super Follows and Ticketed Spaces.
At the same time, our data shows that visits to Twitter’s global ad portal (ads.twitter.com) improved from the first quarter to the second quarter by 2%.
However on a YoY basis, growth slowed from 48% in 1Q21 to 30% in 2Q21.
Note that ad portal visits– lagged by one quarter– have historically shown a strong correlation with ad revenue, a key earnings metric for the social media giant.
This means that Twitter’s ad revenue this quarter should reflect the strong 48% YoY growth to ads.twitter.com seen in 1Q21. And the implications of this quarter should be seen in Twitter’s guidance.
Turning to twitter.com, we see a notable slowdown in visitor growth. For 2Q21, global unique visitors came in +13% YoY, pulling back from the 21% YoY growth achieved in 1Q21. However, in number terms there was an increase in unique visitors QoQ.
U.S. unique visitors demonstrated a similar – but sharper – trend, dropping from 22% YoY growth in 1Q21 to just 9% in 2Q21. That’s down from 44% in 4Q20! If we look at the actual numbers of unique visitors between the two quarters (rather than YoY growth) we also see a drop of 2%.
Twitter audience engagement trends
Last quarter Twitter boasted very strong engagement metrics. Fast forward one quarter, and the mood has changed. In 1Q21, Twitter’s average visit duration was almost on par with the previous two quarters. Given that those were very strong quarters for Twitter (with the pandemic, U.S. election, and the holiday season all boosting engagement) this was quite an achievement.
For 2Q21, however, YoY global average visit duration was up just 1% vs. 6% growth in 1Q21. This was the slowest rate of growth experienced by Twitter in this metric since the start of the pandemic (1Q20).
Pro Tip: Average visit duration is the average amount of time visitors spend on a website within a session. For most websites, the longer the duration, the better. Use this metric to understand how likely users are to complete the website goal (page views, purchase, etc.), to analyze traffic month over month, and understand fluctuations and trends.
In June 2021, the global average visit duration was 15 minutes 46 seconds. While this is 23 seconds less than the peak in January 2021, we should note that this is still a dramatic advance in visit duration compared to pre-pandemic. You can see this clearly in the screenshot below.
Also check out the almost completely opposing visit duration trends for twitter.com and facebook.com over the last couple of years:
Tech stock #3: Microsoft Corporation
Earnings date: July 27 after markets close (confirmed)
In 2020, Microsoft Teams saw incredible growth spurred on by COVID-19, leaving Slack’s visitor numbers far behind. Its integration with the rest of the Microsoft enterprise suite gave it a unique advantage compared to standalone services like Slack (WORK) or even Zoom (ZM).
Given the tough comparison to last year, it’s not surprising that for this quarter YoY unique visitor growth came in at 19%, down from 208% YoY growth in 1Q21 and 809% in 4Q20.
If we take a closer look at 2Q21, our data indicates that since March 2021 there has been a slight month-by-month decline in the number of unique visitors to teams.microsoft.com. This is the subdomain that leads to the login page for Microsoft Teams.
From March 2021, to June 2021, unique visitors fell by 10%. However, this is still an increase of 31% from June 2020 (and over 1,100% from June 2019). In other words, we can see that the unique visitor numbers remain significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels.
Pro Tip: Unique Visitors is defined as the number of people who visit a web location during a specific period of time (even if they visit the site multiple times).
Spotlight on Microsoft Azure
Last but not least, let’s see how Microsoft’s cloud computing service Microsoft Azure is performing. Revenue for the service spiked 50% during the previous quarter – and helped drive Microsoft’s stunning earnings beat.
“The cloud growth party is just getting started in our opinion led by MSFT,” cheered Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives in his post-print report last quarter.
According to Similarweb data, total visits to azure.microsoft.com rose 15% YoY in 2Q21. This represents a slowdown from the stellar 31% YoY growth achieved in 1Q21.
However, as you can see from the screenshot below, visits remain on a fairly positive trajectory despite the slowdown in growth.
Similarweb tracks data in near real-time. The result: you don’t have to wait for earnings season to see how a company is performing online.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.