Facebook’s new mobile ads: what’s the marketing opportunity?

By Chris Lee

Facebook has launched its first non-social mobile ad unit, allowing mobile app developers to buy mobile newsfeed ads for the first time. When they click on an ad, users are redirected to Android and iOS app stores, increasing the opportunity for developers to drive app downloads. The ads are charged on a cost per click basis, not cost per install, and appear in the “Try These Games” panel in between friends’ updates in the mobile news feed.

The performance of ads can be tracked via a dashboard and, similar to existing advertising options on Facebook, brands can utilise Facebook’s wealth of data on users to create highly-targeted ads, including device-specific data.

Facebook’s click-through rates for social mobile newsfeed ads already outperform Twitter ads, according to a recent TBG Digital report. The click-through rate (CTR) of Facebook mobile newsfeed ads is 1.14 per cent, according to TBG Digital’s own data, much better than Twitter’s 0.266 per cent. Facebook’s desktop ads receive just a 0.083 per cent CTR.

TBG Digital’s CEO Simon Mansell put this down to their newness, heightened attention among mobile users, better targeting from Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm and demographic targeting.

According to Declan Kennedy, CEO of Facebook marketing technology company Betapond, the move towards non-social mobile newsfeed ads is a “big sign of intent for Facebook” when it comes to mobile. He believes that for marketers it constitutes a real opportunity to reach a far wider audience on Facebook mobile. NMK caught up with Kennedy to learn why and how.

Relevancy is key

Before Facebook make this switch to non-social mobile ads, marketers could only target friends of existing app users or people who had interacted with the brand using features such as sponsored stories, Kennedy told NMK. Now, marketers can use the interest graph for targeting and can place mobile ads more strategically to a wider potential user base.

“However, it is up to marketers to keep targeting tactics as relevant as possible,” he warned. “Firstly, to ensure apps are reaching the right target audience; and secondly, to avoid a backlash from users who resent ads they are uninterested in taking up space on their mobile news feed.”

Kennedy explained that Facebook and its marketing subsidiaries are providing a number of ways to allow marketers and developers to accurately track traffic from mobile ads. Not only is it possible to see which audiences and tactics drive the most traffic, it also allows Facebook to be used as a market research tool.

“This is an area that is not capitalised on enough, and far too many brands remain blind to who their real fans are,” he added.

Be Subtle

Advertising works best when people do not recognise it as advertising, according to Kennedy. By targeting interests, it is possible to create content that will engage users. Not only is this likely to increase traffic (in this case to app stores), he argued.

“Users are more likely to share content, bringing virality to your campaign and encouraging other likeminded users to engage with your brand,” he concluded. “While these new mobile ads may prove to be an extremely useful new feature, marketers must prioritise their existing user networks. Ultimately, these are the people already interacting with your brand and most likely to use your products.”

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