First it was Apple iAds, then Promoted Tweets. Soon, it will be Facebook mobile ads. Whether this was part of the plan all along or due to a sudden need to monetize its growing mobile base in light of its recent IPO, Facebook ads are rumored to start showing sometime next month. Like anything Facebook does, speculation about what mobile ads means for users, stakeholders and prospective investors abound.
The Implication of Mobile Ads
Much like the sponsored stories Facebook started running, featured stories will appear in the mobile news feed, similar to Twitter’s promoted tweets, among posts from your friends. Although 845 million of its users gain access to the site via mobile device, generating revenue from mobile is one of the things that could make or break its public offering.
The Financial Times, in its report, speculates that Facebook may provide incentives for advertisers to link within Facebook, rather than directing users offsite, which would serve to make advertising more palatable and less disruptive for its users.
Advertising Keeps the Lights On, Services Free
While at first, social media users may have balked at the blatant advertising presented alongside their Tweets and Facebook posts, many, if not most of us, have come to realize that these free services require money to run. If online and mobile advertising helps to keep the lights on and sustain its freemium platforms, we understand. Facebook has the advantage of learning from Twitter and Apple, who have been able to gently massage their ads’ presence overtime to keep from disrupting the user experience, while generating revenue successfully.
Facebook is poised to leverage its current advertising platform and may be behooved to offer current advertisers first dibs on mobile ads. It also could take advantage of the user data it collects to develop a localized advertising model, which could provide incentive for access for mobile users.
Of course, we don’t really know what direction Facebook will take. However, we may not need to wait too long. Facebook is holding an event for marketers on February 29, so we can expect a number of announcements about how we can use its social network.