Shock horror!! Facebook is about to bring us another change. Only this time it’s probably something we’ve been expecting for a while rather than a new platform change that is being thrown at us out of the blue. However, rather than affecting how we view Facebook on our laptops or desktops, it will be in an arguably even more personal environment. Our mobile phones. We are of course talking about Facebook entering into mobile advertising.
The question of when ads would be coming to Facebook mobile has been asked for some time now. It is probably surprising to us media folk that it has taken this long, and is arguably considered a missed opportunity to bring in even more revenue for Zuckerberg’s empire. That said, there have always been questions as to how they would integrate ads into the platform without causing too much stress on the user experience.
At the recent Facebook Studio Live Sydney conference, we assumed the record had been set straight when it was unequivocally stated that Facebook would not be integrating ads into the Facebook mobile platform – for that precise reason that it would be impossible to subtly incorporate the ads into what is already a very small screen environment.
Facebook also made their expected S-1 application to float to the stock market recently (which happened to be the same day as the conference), to which end many of us have anticipated Facebook will increasingly need to be more commercially minded as the pressure builds to find additional revenue streams to appease the shareholders. It therefore came as no surprise just five days after the conference/S-1 application that stories appeared in the trade press that Facebook ads were in fact in the pipe line, contrary to their stance on it just days earlier.
From a media point of view, this of course offers a very attractive touch point for us to further develop a dialogue with our target audiences, in an environment they will already be familiar with. It just comes down to how Facebook decide to integrate with the platform. There are reportedly anywhere from 350m to 420m people accessing Facebook on their mobile, which instantly defines the platform as one of the top reaching environments to be considered for our planning. It just comes down to how far Facebook wish to develop it.
From our initial discussions with Facebook, they have said they will of course be sensitive to the user experience not to simply throw in all the ads that we are used to seeing on the full site (Like ads, Video ads, Polling ads etc.). Instead they are alluding to them being more in the form of how Twitter integrated promoted tweets directly into the feed to keep things simple.
The expected formats at this stage will be to utilise the Page Post and Sponsored Stories ads that provide media function for brand pages to engage with their page’s likers, and to keep a social element that facilitates extended growth of a brand page respectively. Yet we should encourage the standard like ad to continue whilst brands have a need to connect with users to generate likes of their pages, particularly for brand pages only recently (or soon to be) increasing their focus on their Facebook presence and social media as a media channel in its own right.
Facebook ads are anticipated to start as early as March across the Android, iPhone and iPad platforms; and are about role out sooner in the U.S.