Instagram brought in more money than YouTube in 2019

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
AP Photo/Amr Alfiky

There's little doubt that Instagram is important to Facebook's bottom line, but how big is it, really? It might be larger than you think. Bloomberg sources say Instagram racked up $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, handily eclipsing YouTube's $15.1 billion -- yes, the most popular video site on the planet wasn't as lucrative as a photo-focused social network. Instagram unsurprisingly played an important role in Facebook's finances, accounting for more than a quarter of the tech firm's ad money from last year.

The site might be more profitable, too. YouTube shares most of its ad revenue with creators, and its video-only focus could mean steeper costs for streaming clips.

Facebook has declined to comment on the data. The company hasn't broken out Instagram's revenue so far, and at last check hasn't updated Instagram's user count beyond the 1 billion reported in 2018.

It's not entirely shocking that Instagram would pull in that kind of money. Advertising is everywhere in the app these days, including posts in the regular feed and Stories. Instagram is also going out of its way to make shopping easy. This is still a milestone if accurate, mind you, and shows that Instagram is much more than a side project. Not that Facebook will want to cheer too loudly -- the revelation could fuel calls to break up Facebook and reduce its clout.