By Paula Planelles Manzanaro
Facebook looks for new ways to capture users’ interest, such as the introduction of small-screen ads for smartphones and other mobile devices. In a report by by Digiday, a website specialized in digital media and marketing events, Facebook has stated that it doesn’t make any “meaningful revenue” from mobile, a problem which is trying to face now with the launch of brand-focused rich-media ad formats.
Paul Gelb, mobile practice lead at Razorfish, asserts that the social network is carrying out pilot programs for “mobile and cross-platform rich-media ads”. The aim is to increase the number of mobile users that log in Facebook every month, 420 million at present, according to agency executives.
There has been continuous appetite for mobile phone marketing in recent years, according to report by the Financial Times. Analysts at Informa Media & Telecoms estimate growth of 51 per cent in 2011 to $5.3bn. However, mobile advertising is at a low level compared with the total digital marketing. Facebook is trying to change this, through the introduction of new formats for mobile devices.
According to the social network Facebook, which generated $3.15bn in advertising revenue last year, this may well increase according to analysts. Alexandre Mars, chief executive of Publicis Groupe’s mobile agency, Phonevalley, commented that permission for more personalized forms of mobile marketing will be essential to obtain users’ approval. “They know a lot of things about you –how and when they can start using them or whether you will be OK or be annoyed- that will be their challenge”, he said.
According to Digiday, “featured stories” could be the social network’s first mobile marketing format, including interactive elements, animations, videos, location-based features and various calls to action such as tap-to call and tap-to-coupon.
But Facebook is not the only company which has put their eyes on mobile advertising. In November 2009, Google acquire Admob, a mobile advertising company, for $750m. And Apple, which also showed interest in acquiring Admob, launched in 2010 iAd, which lets advertisers send video or animated advertisements for iPad applications. Last month the company hired a former Adobe and Yahoo executive, Todd Terest, to modernize iAd in order to beat its competitor Google. These two companies, Google and Apple, are constantly fighting for the pole position in the mobile advertising market. In 2011, Google had a 52 per cent share of the US mobile ad market compared with just a 6.4 per cent for Aplee, analysts at Emarketer inform.
However, according to the report by the Financial Times, mobile advertising remains at a low percentage. Christian Lindholm, a former Nokia designer and chief innovation officer at the digital consultancy Fjord, stated: “No one has cracked mobile advertising. The fundamental problem is the lack of screen real estate”.
Another possible reason pointed out by the Financial Times is the fact that people use a lot their mobile phone to surf but fewer users buy items through them, which cause that advertisers are not willing to pay the same for mobile ads.
Nevertheless, this trend seems to be changing. Rob Jonas, vice-president for Europe, Middle East and Africa of independent ad network InMobi, considers that the new mobile ad strategies are “something that’s been talked about for quite some time and is not starting to become more of a reality and more effective. As long as you are creating relevant content, it will be a good user experience”.
Meanwhile, Chia Chen, head of mobile at Digitas, said that the advantages of this emergent advertising market mean “tt makes sense to really hook people, to get them really engaged and make the mobile product an indispensable part of people’s daily lives.”