Facebook Makes Gains in Web Ads

Facebook Inc. is catching up to rivals Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in selling display ads.

In the first quarter, Facebook pulled ahead of Yahoo for the first time and delivered more banner ads to its U.S. users than any other Web publisher, according to market-research firm comScore Inc. (SCOR).

Overall, Facebook.com served 176.3 billion display ads on its website over the first three months of 2010, or 16.2 percent of the total, said comScore. Yahoo served 131.6 billion banner ads to Yahoo users, and Microsoft served 60.2 billion, according to comScore. The data don’t include ads that Yahoo and Microsoft delivered to other Web sites through their networks, a major source of revenue for each.

By revenue, Facebook has a long way to go to catch up to its more established rivals. The social-networking site earned more than $500 million in revenue in 2009 and is forecasting revenue of more than $1 billion in 2010, according to people familiar with the matter. Yahoo earned $6.5 billion in revenue in 2009, mostly from advertising.

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