facebookmessenger11After Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in February, it was clear that the social media giant saw potential on the messaging space.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about that strategy today during the company’s first quarter earnings call when asked about building out Facebook’s communication ecosystem.

Zuckerberg noted that Facebook has historically focused on friends and public content, but now is turning its attention to new approaches.

“You’re going to see us do more things with private content,” he said. “That ecosystem is growing incredibly quickly.”

That makes sense given the acquisition of WhatsApp, which just passed the 500 million active user mark, and the success of Facebook’s Messenger app, which the company announced today has reached more than 200 million active users.

But while Facebook’s core product — its desktop and mobile social network app — has monetized its massive user base (1.28 billion monthly users), Zuckerberg said that it will be awhile before Messenger, WhatsApp and even Instagram employ similar advertising mechanisms.

For now, Facebook wants to grow those products and attract more users before thinking about how to make money off them. There’s also a third set of products Facebook is building with its Creative Labs arm — products like Paper — that are even further down the monetization roadmap.

instagramfacebook“It will take a few years for [Creative Labs apps] to get to the stage that Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp are at, which by themselves are few years away from being big and important businesses for us,” Zuckerberg said.

It sounds like it will be awhile before you see mobile ads on Messenger or WhatsApp. Facebook is also taking its time with a monetization strategy for Instagram, which recently announced it passed the 200 million user mark.

We’re very focused on consumer growth and we’re moving very slowly on monetization,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said on the earnings call. “We really want to grow it slowly and deliberately.”

Facebook, which beat analyst expectations for Q1 revenue today, noted that 59 percent of its advertising revenue is now coming from mobile, up from 30 percent one year ago. It also has more than 1 billion monthly active users on mobile for the first time.

See the full earnings results here.

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