According to a Financial Times report, Facebook will launch mobile ads sometime in March. It’s high time, of course, for a few reasons:
– Of the $3.7 billion Facebook took in for revenue in 2011, only a minimal amount came from mobile ads.
– Facebook’s IPO filing revealed that of the company’s worldwide users, half (425 million during December 2011) are active mobile users.
– Smartphone sales surpassed PC sales for the first time in 2011. The death of the desktop is imminent.
So…it’s obvious that the future for Facebook ads is in mobile, but one of the challenges is the limited real estate of the screen. How will their strategy take this into account? There are a couple of clues that the mobile look will aim for a clean, uncluttered feel similar to the desktop experience.
In January, Facebook announced the beta testing of sponsored stories ad unit in users newsfeeds for the desktop. A variation of this ad unit will roll out for the mobile application, as evidenced by the following statement taken from the S-1 filing:
“We currently do not show ads or directly generate any meaningful revenue from users accessing Facebook through our mobile products, but we believe that we may have potential future monetization opportunities such as the inclusion of sponsored stories in users’ mobile News Feeds.”
It has also been announced that ad text for the ad body will be reduced from 135 characters to 90. Title text character limit will remain at 25. Many speculate that Facebook is doing this to fit more ads on user pages. It’s also possible that these shorter ads are part of the strategy to get these ads on mobile.
With the limited size of a mobile screen, ads featured in the news feed and ads with reduced text seems to be the logical route to take. Whether or not the desktop itself is on the way down, the Facebook desktop experience has proven so successful that moving it to up-and-coming platforms seems like the perfect blend of old and new.
– Clark Sioson, Facebook Account Manager