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Facebook posts jump in profits, eyes Messenger, WhatsApp growth

Facebook posted an ad-driven profit increase of 71 percent, and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg wants more ads. He is eyeing a rollout in Messenger and WhatsApp.

Facebook's profits leapt 71 percent for the second quarter of 2017 compared to the same period last year, it announced on Wednesday.

Profits for the second quarter hit $3.9 billion (3.3 billion euros) while revenue climbed 45 percent to $9.3 billion (7.9 billion euros).

Facebook, which has more than 2 billion users, said the rise was largely fueled by squeezing more ads into its Facebook News Feed and adding more ads to its photo-sharing app Instagram, which has 700 million users.

Read more: Facebook now has two billion monthly users

"We had a good second quarter and first half of the year," said Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

Messenger and WhatsApp ads

Zuckerberg said the company was now turning its attention to monetizing its two messaging services, Messenger and WhatsApp, which have more than 1 billion users each.

Zuckerberg said he wants to see the company "move a little faster" when it comes to ads on Messenger, but added that he is "confident that we're going to get this right over the long term."

Read more: Zuckerberg releases Facebook manifesto

Facebook told developers and businesses the Messenger ads would only be for brands that people "love" or that offer an "opportunity to discover experiences."

Facebook product manager Ted Helwick wrote in a blog post that a "small percentage" of Messenger users would receive ads by the end of July, with the limited rollout then studied.

When Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, its CEO Jan Koum promised users there would be "absolutely no ads interrupting your communication." But last August, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy to include the sharing of user data with Facebook to "offer better friend suggestions" and "show you more relevant ads" on Facebook and its other properties.

Video service

Facebook said it would also accelerate its push into video, in an effort to pull advertising dollars away from the television industry and increasing the time people spend on Facebook.

It also said that within weeks it would launch a video service with scripted shows, a notable change for a business built on user-generated content.

Facebook stocks rose more than 4 percent to around $173 after the earnings report. Through Wednesday's close, the share price had climbed nearly 44 percent this year.

aw/bk (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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