Google's parent Alphabet exceeds street expectations, ad revenue slumps

Google's parent Alphabet exceeds street expectations, ad revenue slumps

Boosted by growth in its cloud-computing division, Alphabet's total revenue for the quarter came in at $69.8 billion, a 3 per cent increase from last year.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 10:40 AM IST
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Google's parent Alphabet exceeds street expectations, ad revenue slumps | File

Alphabet's revenue and profit have both exceeded the tempered expectations among analysts for the first time in the previous five quarters.

That along with a $70 billion stock buyback plan helped boost Alphabet's stock price by 4 per cent in extended trading after the numbers came out.

Boosted by growth in its cloud-computing division, Alphabet's total revenue for the quarter came in at $69.8 billion, a 3 per cent increase from last year. But the ad woes weighed on Alphabet's earnings.

The Mountain View, California, company earned $15.05 billion, or $1.17 per share, an 8 per cent decrease from last year.

More than $2 billion charges for mass layoffs and other cost cutting contributed to the earnings downturn.

The company's shares have fallen by about 15 per cent during the past year amid investor concerns about Google's ad slump and worries about the company's future prospects.

Google’s ad revenue decreases

An unprecedented downturn in Google's digital ad revenue - the company's main moneymaker for more than 20 years - came into sharper focus Tuesday with the release of the January-Marcy results for its corporate parent, Alphabet Inc.

Although Alphabet's total revenue for the period rose from the same last year, Google's first-quarter ad sales of $54.5 billion marked a slight decrease from a year ago.

That dip followed a nearly 4 per cent decline during the final three months of last year, making this the first time Google has sustained back-to-back drops in year-over-year ad revenue since becoming a publicly traded company in 2004.

Google's current ad slump largely reflects more cautionary spending among companies reacting to a slowdown in discretionary consumer spending amid budget-pinching rise in inflation that's also fuelling an increase in interest rates that could culminate in a recession.

YouTube ad sales drop

Google's YouTube video site, a marketing magnet in recent years, saw its ad sales decrease 2.5 per cent from last year, marking its second consecutive quarter of erosion, too. YouTube along with spending cuts is also facing increased competition from its rival TikTok.

Google layoff

To help prop up its profits, Alphabet in January announced plans to lay off 12,000 employees, or 6% workforce, by far the biggest payroll purge in its history.

But the layoffs weren't completed before the end of the quarter, leaving Alphabet with more than 190,000 employees as of March 31, roughly the same number it had Dec. 31 after the company added nearly 34,000 workers last year. Alphabet expects its workforce to reflect the recent layoffs' by the end of June.

ChatGPT to impact Google’s search engine

The artificially intelligent ChatGPT bot released that is being melded into Microsoft's Bing search engine is raising fears Google could be facing a longer-term threat to Google's search engine that drags down ad revenue, too.

If people embrace ChatGPT and Bing as better ways to find what they are looking for, it could siphon away traffic from the Google search engine that has long been the internet's main gateway.

That in turn would depress Google's ad sales.

Google is trying to counter the popularity of ChatGPT with its own alternative, dubbed Bard, but so far has restrained its capabilities t o ensure it doesn't behave in a way that offends its billions of users - and advertisers in the process - and to reduce the chances it manufactures misinformation and other fabrications that the technology calls "hallucinations."

With inputs from PTI

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