Teenagers lucky enough to own their very own iPhone have had but one complaint with the device: that Facebook is far too slow for their Web-addled attention spans. And it’s not just the kids; just about everyone who has used Facebook on a mobile device has complained about the slower-than-molasses speeds of the app. But Facebook listened, and has issued an update for all iOS devices that addresses, more than anything else, time.
In May of this year, comScore reported that, despite the speed issues, Facebook visitors were far more likely to access the site from their mobile device than their desktop computer. For a website that makes its money from advertising, and that can show far fewer ads to visitors on mobile devices, this is not necessarily news that is going to have ole’ Zuck doing cartwheels down the street.
However, as my old Uncle Olaf used to say, you play the cards you’re dealt, and with this latest update, Facebook is finding the only way that it can to show more ads to people via mobile: by keeping them on the app for longer. How are they doing this?
The speed of the new app is the main thing. It’s now actually a pleasure to spend time on the Facebook app with your iOS device. And the more time one spends on Facebook, the more opportunities Facebook has to serve an ad. Of course, they still can’t do it as often as on the browser version, but with the elevated CTR and ROI that one achieves via mobile, this may go a long way towards helping Facebook’s ailing stock prices that suggest discontent amongst investors.
And there are new features that are intended to keep users engaged for longer with this update. While you’re on the new app, you may notice a dropdown notification that indicates that a friend has just updated his/herprofile. You click on it, because you’re interested in what they just had for lunch, and suddenly you’ve stayed on the app for longer, and are one more opportunity for someone to serve you an ad.
The one that I like the best is the ability to phone friends from within Facebook. You think of a friend you want to call and, if he/she has a phone number listed on Facebook, you can go to the app and dial it directly. This is a beautiful piece of design that is intended to get people ON the app to begin with. New bells and whistles like the updated camera app (that isn’t Instagram) and the others I’ve mentioned already are designed to keep them there.
To reach their most profitable customers on their chosen device, Facebook has put a lot of effort into the means by which they can get them to open the app, and then stay there for long enough for them to see enough ads that they’re interested in to click through and find out what’s going on. It’s about time, Facebook, and those of us who advertise via your mobile platform are grateful.
– Marc Poirier