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The Most Important Thing Facebook Did This Year

Cadie Thompson
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One year later, Facebook has figured out mobile, experts say.

The social networking giant may have gotten off to a rocky start after its IPO, but the company has quickly turned things around by cashing in on its users' obsession with mobile.

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"One of the big complaints at the company's IPO was that it doesn't make any money on mobile and that was true and fair, at the time," said Jason Stein, founder and president of the social media agency Laundry Service

When the company went public, it made zero dollars via its mobile ad platform, Stein said. But in the last quarter, Facebook raked in $375 million on mobile ads.

"It's amazing that a company was criticized for lacking any mobile presence was able to completely build a new app and monetize it as quickly as it was able to build it," Stein said.

(Read More: Facebook Shares One Year On-Time to Reconsider? )

Now almost 70 percent of Facebook users are on the network's mobile platform and about 30 percent of all ad revenue is generated via mobile, which advertisers like because they see huge opportunity for growth, Stein said.

Eden Zoller, principal consumer analyst at Ovum, said she too expects the ad revenue to grow, but it's crucial for the company to continue to expand its reach into emerging markets.

"I think it will increase and there's a real imperative for Facebook to continue that momentum. More people are interacting with people on mobile phones, some of them on an exclusive basis, now if people are moving to mobile, Facebook needs to ensure that the advertising dollars go with that migration," Zoller said.

(Read More: Facebook Makes Mobile Money, Though Earnings Miss by a Penny )

But Facebook hasn't always had the right mobile approach when it comes to cashing in on mobile.

Last September CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the company had been too focused on HTML5-the programming language that is compatible with any browser and does not require add-ons to function-in its mobile strategy and not focused enough on native apps, which users preferred.

"It completely blew up in their face, but they didn't waste any time. They got to work building very high-performing applications. They bought Instagram. They focused on mobile growth," said Krishna Subramanian, CMO of the mobile marketing company Velti. "The key thing that Zuckerberg does well is identify when things don't work and change quickly."

Facebook has continued to grow its mobile strategy with the launch of its Facebook Home product, the series of apps that essentially can cover the home screen of an Android device.

While Facebook isn't making any money off its Home apps yet, there is definitely revenue potential for Facebook Home, Stein said.

He said that Home may be appealing to advertisers because if Facebook is always running on the home screen and in the background of a users phone, odds of engagement with their ad increases dramatically.

But Home still has some time before it's raking in the big bucks, Subramanian said.

"It will continue to evolve. Facebook Home has good intentions," Subramanian said. "Zuckerberg's gut feelings are very spot on, but given, if you make one hundred changes, not everyone is going to work."

Along with Facebook's Home launch, the company also announced a new smartphone that came pre-loaded with the device made by HTC called HTC First. As part of its evolving mobile strategy, Subramanian said he can see Facebook taking on more hardware partnerships of this nature in the future.

"You don't just go out and build a phone. You focus on what your core strengths are," he said. "So I don't think that they will make a phone, but I could see them building an OS to power devices or deeper integrations of Facebook on platforms."

"I definitely think things are going in the right direction," Subramanian added. "I'm definitely excited about what they are doing from a mobile ad perspective and excited to see how they drive the connected consumer."

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