MENLO PARK, CA: As social media giant Facebook continues to get bigger, its focus is shifting from connecting friends and family to building communities and to improving the metrics on offer to advertisers.

In a quarterly earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported that more than 1.9bn people used Facebook in March, with almost 1.3bn doing so every day, representing year on year increases of 17% and 18% respectively.

"Our ads business is doing well too," he added: advertising revenue was up 51% to $7.9bn – with mobile accounting for 85% of that – while the number of ad impressions served increased 32%.

Geographically, advertising in the core markets of North America and Europe grew 47%, while Asia-Pacific was stronger at 60% and the Rest of the World came in at 66%.

COO Sheryl Sandberg highlighted what Facebook offered. "When ads are really well targeted and taking full advantage of the kind of targeting we offer, so you're showing people something they want to see, we see engagement that we think is really critical," she said.

But she added that many current measurements were only proxy metrics. "What matters is the impact on sales," she stated.

"And so we think the better we can do at getting the measurement to what actually matters, which is the end behavior marketers are trying to drive, the more people will shift their focus to business metrics, the better it will be for the returns they get and ultimately our business."

As well as putting systems in place to help marketers measure results, she stressed the development of third-party partnerships to verify those results, and offered the example of Bud Light's NFL campaign, which featured team-specific beer cans.

She reported that the beer brand had run video ads featuring the new cans to Americans aged 21 to 49 across the US, along with more targeted ads in each region featuring the two cans of the teams playing each other.

"Using Facebook polling and Oracle data cloud, they saw a 24-point lift in ad recall and a 4.4 times return on ad sales," said Sandberg.

While the monthly user figures and ad revenues indicate that the various controversies swirling around the social network have done little to dampen the enthusiasm of consumers or advertisers, Zuckerberg was keen to stress that action is being taken.

This includes changes to the News Feed ranking and the recruitment of an additional 3,000 people to the Facebook Community Operations team to help keep people safe on the platform.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by WARC staff