What Facebook’s Mobile Strategy Means to You

What Facebook’s Mobile Strategy Means to You

October 22, 2013

BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg didn’t give 25 reasons mobile matters; he gave one. “Mobile-first is not enough. Mobile should be all you care about,” Digiday quoted him as saying.

Facebook has hopped on the bandwagon, and here’s what the company’s revamped mobile strategy means for your advertising.

A More-Mobile Facebook

In the past 18 months, Facebook has shifted its focus to mobile, moving from an HTML5 product to higher-quality native iOS and Android apps (that launched last fall). Why is that important? Mobile ads were 41% of Facebook’s Q2 revenue and mobile users spend roughly one in every five minutes online using Facebook (versus one in seven on the web). The Facebook app is being updated regularly including recent updates with News Feed redesign, Chat Heads, adding photos to comments, and the recent autoplay feature for videos.

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What’s Next

Graph Search hasn’t made it to mobile yet, and Facebook is working on a refreshed version of Home with additional social add-ons like Instagram alerts. With an ever-expanding social graph comes billions more users and bulging bandwidth – and Facebook for Every Phone already has more than 100 million users! Facebook plans to work with internet companies on mobile apps that efficiently use less data and zap less of your battery. As the service grows in emerging markets, the company is also working on updates that function well on older technology. Like Apple’s recent push with the iPhone 5c, Facebook’s mobile strategy doesn’t want to preclude its next billion users with barriers to entry and operation.

Why This Equals Ad-Driven Success

Facebook’s mobile targeting capabilities are more powerful than ever, allowing advertisers to find customers easily based on demographic information, interests, and other targeting mechanisms. Take hotel-booking app Hotel Tonight. Last year, the company ran mobile app install ads targeting iOS users with interests like traveling, parenting, and golf. The results of such precise targeting combined with mobile app install ads were great: 10x higher click-to-install rate compared to standard mobile banner ads and 30% lower cost per install in key markets. Hotel Tonight director of mobile marketing Adam Grenier said Facebook’s rare rich targeting capabilities on mobile made him feel like “a kid in a candy store.”

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Service Switchers: An Early and Active Target

Early adopters of Facebook’s mobile ad strategy included mobile phone manufacturers and wireless service carriers, who had nine times as much success advertising on Facebook mobile versus desktop ads, according to Business Insider. Only 19 million of 326 million wireless subscribers in the US switch companies each year, locking themselves into new contracts. Enter Facebook’s new tool (available in nine countries) to measure telecom ad campaigns: Facebook collects anonymous user data on operating systems, devices, and carriers of those who have viewed a given ad campaign, then determines how many of those people purchased a new phone or switched carriers. This is a valuable outcome to measure; 90% of people who make the switch didn’t actually click on the ad, but it still influenced their behavior. Expect much more from telecom companies on mobile!

Make Your Strategy Mobile-Ready

Think beyond mobile app installs to where people use their devices: in transit, in line at the store, in the waiting room, and yes, we’ve all been guilty of checking our News Feeds in the bathroom stall. For Pimm’s this became “Pimm’s o’clock,” a weather-based mobile-inclusive campaign activated around sunny days and special events – prime mobile times as people meet up and follow each other’s comings and goings. It identified prime-time usage periods of its product, achieving 5X return on ad spend. For Fab.com, a pioneer of social e-commerce, mobile was always the key to hooking and building customer loyalty—Fab.com has a 5X higher install rate for mobile app install ads versus other platforms. Bottom line: make your mobile strategy integrate seamlessly into the pocket of your customer base, and be there when they need you (even if they don’t know that yet).

Other Mobile Trends to Consider

When discussing ad strategy, remember that no two mobile devices, or users, are created alike. Studies have shown people use smartphones and tablets in very different ways. Tablets are shared social devices that promote PC-like behavior, while smartphones are very personal. Some people are more likely to browse in-store or on their phone then buy on their tablet, while others will research on mobile then buy offline. And locally-focused ads see the greatest amount of traction–call it the train station bulletin board of the future.