Instagram with a higer revenue than YouTube for years

Instagram vs. Youtube. © Dall-E
Instagram vs. Youtube. © Dall-E
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Although YouTube has always been well ahead of the photo and video app Instagram in terms of usage time and visitor numbers, Instagram is bigger in one (quite important) point: namely, sales. Until now, it has always been a big mystery how many billions in advertising dollars the Meta/Facebook subsidiary turns over, but new documents from the US competition authority FTC now show how much it is.

Instagram has made $32.4 billion in 2021. That is a decent growth in itself since in 2020 and 2019 the platform made around $22 and $17.9 billion. The documents also show that Instagram’s share of Meta’s total advertising revenue grew from 26 to 30 percent from 2020 to 2022. This makes the photo app, which Mark Zuckerberg bought in 2012 for around a billion dollars, certainly one of the most lucrative acquisitions of all time, and gave Facebook/Meta an incredibly important foothold in the mobile world.

Instagram has been generating more advertising revenue than YouTube for many years. YouTube made about $28.8 billion in 2021, about $19.7 billion in 2020, and $15.1 billion in 2019. This means that Instagram has been larger than YouTube in terms of sales since 2019, i.e. for four years. There are also two factors: YouTube shares the advertising revenue with the content producers or video makers and gives them 55 percent of the advertising sales. On Instagram, however, it is much less. This means that Instagram is also the subsidiary that accounts for a significantly larger share of the group’s overall results.

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YouTube is more broadly positioned with subscriptions

YouTube, on the other hand, not only has advertising revenue, but also more and more subscribers to the premium subscription, and is also already selling paid films in streams via the platform; there is also YouTube Music. Overall, the subscription business is becoming increasingly important for Google and has already brought in $15 billion for the Internet company in 2023. At Meta and its subsidiary Instagram, almost everything revolves around advertising; paid features are underrepresented. In early 2024, Instagram also introduced paid subscriptions for content creators, which will turn into another valuable income source.

Meta published the Instagram numbers because it wants to avert an antitrust lawsuit from the FTC. It also addresses the question of whether the takeovers of Instagram and WhatsApp have restricted competition in the social media market to the detriment of US consumers. Of course, Meta is trying to avert the antimonopoly lawsuit. In the worst case scenario, Meta could be forced to sell Instagram. With a turnover of more than 30 billion dollars per year, Instagram alone would be a heavyweight.


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