Facebook recently announced that mobile advertising represents 84 percent of its revenue, and the number of its “mobile-only” users has reached 1 billion.
To accommodate those users, earlier this year the company released new tools to create, test, share, and review mobile ads in order to make advertising efforts on its platform as effective as possible for brands and marketers.
What can marketers do to take advantage of Facebook and the mobile advertising opportunities?
Year of Mobile
While social media pundits have been announcing “the year of mobile” for about a decade now and mobile traffic officially overtook the desktop in 2015, Facebook was ahead of the game.
It developed a mobile-first platform to deliver simple, fast and easy user experience and offered ultra-fine-grained targeting for advertisers. Facebook’s vast mobile audience presents a powerful opportunity for digital marketers to monetize all those viewers.
Consumers are spending 25 percent of their media consumption time on mobile devices, while marketers are spending only 12 percent of ad dollars on this channel.
The discrepancy shows that advertisers are missing opportunities by failing to convert to the mobile-first mindset. Facebook, on the other hand, woke to this reality early.
The Downside of Facebook Ads
PricewaterhouseCoopers, for one, believes that mobile ad spending is going to surpass all other channels by 2020. But before marketers jump in to fill the gap, some important obstacles to mobile advertising success on Facebook must be considered.
Facebook advertising is harder than it looks.
The ads can lose their effectiveness quickly, which is problematic for brands that hire agencies, set budgets, and launch big campaigns at the beginning of the year. If ads burn out quickly with no strategy to continually measure and replace them, that budget will languish.
Advertisers should combat ads losing their effectiveness with creative-driven campaign planning and constantly monitoring ad engagement to change things up when needed.
Also frustrating is the ad reach unpredictability caused by Facebook’s dynamic marketplace and algorithms. The number of people in a target audience who are logged in, the amount of competition, and the number of impressions available are constantly changing and can generate uneven results. Budgeting in smaller increments and monitoring performance more frequently can help fight these barriers. Spending your full budget daily on Google, for example, is more achievable because it’s likely that the same number of people will search a given term each day. But with impressions changing so often on Facebook, it can be difficult for marketers to invest the same amount for less certainty.
What Facebook Has to Offer
When digital marketers overcome these obstacles, however, the benefits of harnessing Facebook’s power can be enormous. While click fraud is a serious problem, Facebook traffic is cleaner than other display advertising platforms.
A 2014 study of billions of ads by the Association of National Advertisers found that 11 percent of display ads and almost 25 percent of video ads were seen by software, not people.
While there is controversy around the presence of bots on Facebook, traffic attributed to bots is undoubtedly less there than on any other source. Facebook’s users are real people who are seeing your ads.
Facebook targeting also offers more granularity than other digital advertising platforms. When someone creates a Facebook profile, she enters her birth date, gender, location, and more. Facebook knows what users like, what they are talking about, and who they are friends with. Looking for a 30-year-old mom in Nebraska who loves cooking? Done. Ads can be served to that person.
To dodge the obstacles and reap the benefits of Facebook mobile advertising, digital marketers need to do three things well:
1. Test, Test, and Test Some More
Even for businesses that feel good about their ad results, testing is important. Numbers are better than feelings. A/B or split testing can be done within the Facebook ad platform, which makes it easy to compare ad results on the basis of real data instead of opinion or speculation. And the insights gleaned from one creative campaign can easily contribute to the next.
Different images, copy, times of day, calls to action and ad location on the page are all factors that can influence ad performance. Once a high-performing ad is identified, dig deeper: If one image converts at a higher rate, try similar images. Learn what users respond to and realize that it is not a static result because the numbers and types of users who are logged on to Facebook are constantly changing.
2. Measure Your Results
Facebook analytics are great, but it is important to compare the results with third-party tools like Google Analytics, Simply Measured, or WordPress plugin Social Metrics to get multiple dimensions of analytics.
Google Analytics allows you to compare Facebook performance with other social networks and other traffic sources, while Simply Measured and Social Metrics focus exclusively on social performance. Each provides rich reporting options.
3. Make an Innovative User Experience
It’s amazing how many advertisers shove a desktop experience into a mobile page rather than creating a unique mobile experience. Personalization adds value and increases customer loyalty, and it’s becoming an expectation among consumers.
Don’t think about just mobile behavior in general but about behavior specific to Facebook.
Make pages fast. Use Facebook’s dynamic ads to serve the right ad to the right person based on location, past behavior, and the person’s likes and groups.
Create multiple ads for multiple sub-targets. Offer push notifications for users to opt in to, and serve ads and promotions according to what users want to be offered.
Facebook’s huge mobile user base and fantastic targeting technology are making digital advertising affordable even for small and medium-sized companies. Still, monetizing that traffic is not a given. But with constant attention, testing, and dynamic tactics, the rewards for marketers can be remarkable.