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Data: Company filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

Advertising growth was the chief driver of tech's blowout quarter, as the economy snapped back from the pandemic and a long-term shift to digital went into overdrive.

By the numbers: Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google all posted record ad revenue growth rates in earnings reports for 2021's second quarter.

  • Facebook and Google grew ad revenues by 55% and 68% year-over-year, respectively.
  • Snapchat and Twitter both nearly doubled ad revenue year-over-year.
  • YouTube brought in a record $7 billion in ad revenue last quarter, more than Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn combined.
  • Microsoft said LinkedIn surpassed $10 billion in yearly revenue for the first time in its history, largely driven by momentum from digital ads.
  • Even Apple said it reached an all-time high in services revenue, which includes advertising.
  • Amazon, Etsy, Pinterest and other ad-driven tech giants are all expected to see similar gains when they report earnings in the coming week.

Of note: It's far easier for companies with relatively modest total ad revenues — like Twitter and Snapchat, which both stand at roughly $1 billion for the quarter — to show such fast rates of growth.

  • For companies the size of Google ($50.4 billion ad revenue) or Facebook ($28.6 billion ad revenue), it's wild.

Be smart: Three factors drove last quarter's monster growth:

  1. Digital transformation: The pandemic expedited the migration of eyeballs and ad dollars to digital platforms. Big Tech firms were uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of that shift.
  2. COVID crash: The ad market plummeted during the second quarter of 2020 and then rebounded dramatically beginning late last year. So this year's Q2 shows an extra big leap from last year's.
  3. Apple delay: The delayed rollout of Apple's new privacy feature means that tech companies weren't affected by ad-targeting changes as much as they will be in future quarters.

Flashback: A year ago, tech firms warned that ad revenue growth would slow down because of pandemic-related business cutbacks.

  • Fears of such headwinds forced tech companies to double down on other digital products, like e-commerce and short-form video.

Those investments are now paying off.

  • Facebook said Wednesday that video consumption accounts for nearly half of all engaged time on its platform. It says its TikTok competitor, Reels, is the largest contributor to engagement growth on Instagram.
  • YouTube says its TikTok competitor, Shorts, has surpassed 15 billion global daily views, up from the 6.5 billion that it previously announced in March. 

What to watch: Last quarter proved how resilient ad-driven tech firms have been through a period of extreme volatility. But growth rates are unlikely to be this dramatic in the second half of the year.

Go deeper

Nov 5, 2021 - Technology

New Klobuchar, Cotton bill could block Big Tech mergers

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tom Cotton arrive at the Capitol for the impeachment trial of President Trump on Jan. 21, 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/Getty Images

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced a bill Friday that would make it more difficult for Big Tech to acquire rival companies and would force them to prove proposed mergers aren't anticompetitive

Driving the news: The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act is a Senate companion bill to a similar House bill of the same name. It's motivated by a belief that acquisitions like Facebook's parent company Meta buying WhatsApp and Instagram has been bad for consumer choice and competition.

First look: Conservative group aims $2m at frontline Democrats on BBB

A conservative anti-tax group is dropping $2 million on a new ad campaign, urging vulnerable House Democrats in Virginia and other swing districts to oppose President Biden's $1.75 trillion social spending plan.

Why it matters: The Coalition to Protect American Workers, led by former Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, is seizing on Democrats' poor election performance on Tuesday to hit key frontline members ahead of an expected House vote on the package.

Nov 5, 2021 - Technology

Exclusive: Poll shows rising TikTok mistrust

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Men, conservatives and Americans with higher levels of education distrust tech platforms, particularly Facebook and TikTok, more than other demographics, according to a new poll from YouGov and the Center for Growth and Opportunity.

Why it matters: The poll, shared exclusively with Axios, shows an ongoing distrust of tech platforms and the media, as Americans’ faith in some of the most popular vehicles for information continues to drop.

  • The poll also shows that Americans are split on whether news coverage is good for American society, with 41% agreeing with that statement and 43% disagreeing.

By the numbers: The poll, which has a 3.4% margin of error, sampled 1,000 U.S. adults from August 26-31, and showed men generally distrust social media platforms more than women.

  • 59% of respondents said they distrust TikTok; 58% said they distrust Facebook; 55% said they distrust Twitter.
  • 73% of Americans with post-graduate degrees are distrustful of Facebook; 49% are distrustful among those whose highest level of education is a high school diploma.
  • Conservatives said they distrust Facebook more than liberals at 69% and 55%, respectively.
  • 81% of respondents said they support free speech; at the same time, a majority of respondents say social media should be held liable for posts thought to be untrue or offensive content.

Of note: Distrust of Amazon and Twitter has gone up since the last YouGov/CGO poll, while Zoom showed a boost in its reputation, from 35% saying they distrust the platform to 26%.

Be smart: Distrust of the media and tech is shared among many demographics, but as the government investigates and scrutinizes these platforms, there’s little agreement on how to address the spread of misinformation and polarization.

Go deeper: