Facebook's IPO has revealed one of its greatest weaknesses: the need to monetize its increasingly mobile user base through advertising. Speculation has been rife about how Facebook plans to solve this problem, which future stockholders will want addressed.
To that end, a new mobile ad program is rumored to launch in March, according to a Financial Times report. Here are five directions Facebook could take with mobile ads, and how your business can position itself to get ready.
1. The Death of the Top or Bottom Banner Ad
It's easy to ignore the banner ad at the bottom of your cell phone screen on a mobile website. While this is the more popular display method for ad platforms like Google Mobile Ads, click-through rates are lower on a mobile device than on a computer. How can Facebook raise those rates? By placing ads in the middle or off to the side of the screen rather than in an easily ignored area.
Optimization Tip: Write short, catchy ad copy in advance. Get 15-, 25-, and 50-word ads ready to go for when Facebook mobile ads drop. Choose graphics carefully or leave them out, as screen space will be extremely limited. This will help your business even if Facebook keeps the common banner ad format, since you'll be able to use those sound bytes for other online ads.
2. The Use of More Sponsored Stories
Sponsored Stores are ads that a business purchases to showcase on Facebook when friends of users like a certain product or mention it. In order to be featured in Sponsored Stories, first people must like your company on Facebook.
Optimization Tip: While it's stating the obvious, maximize your presence on Facebook if you plan on using any of their advertising, not just the mobile variety. Create a Facebook page and ask clients, employees, and friends to like it, growing your Facebook fan base. Keep asking for "likes" through email newsletters, on blogs, and in other company communications to grow your base. If you want a quick influx of Facebook fans, try running a contest or coupon promotion.
3. Localize Ads
Facebook is likely to take a few pages from current mobile advertising on other platforms and from companies that localize ads based on the viewer's location. The possibility for Facebook to do this with its large user base may be a unique selling point for its mobile ads. Being able to pinpoint businesses on a map is already a selling feature for Google Mobile Ads through integration with Google Maps and Google Places.
Optimization Tip: If you run a brick-and-mortar business, make sure your address appears on all of your Facebook listings.
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