With 750+ million users on board, one could easily assume that Facebook is the place of the future for online advertising. But a recent poll from Marin software concludes the exact opposite, with a scant 6% of UK advertisers reporting as "fully invested" in the network. 

What's the Deal?

Roughly 400 advertisers of various company sizes and sectors responded to the poll:

  • 6% indicated they have “well developed” ad campaigns up and running on Facebook
  • 42% of respondents said they are “experimenting” with ad campaigns
  • 52% have yet to try Facebook ads at all

There's a couple of possible culprits for these surprising numbers -- the biggest one being Google AdWords. The Internet giant's main advantage is the ability to link ads to keyword searches. For example, if the keywords of the search happen to be, "mountain bikes, san francisco" and you are a bicycle dealer in San Francisco who has selected these keywords, your ad will show up.  

Just for fun: 


Google's method is perfect for mapping a consumer's intent to purchase, and Facebook is still trailing behind on this front.

The Silver Lining

While the poll results might seem like a bad break for the social network, they also indicate that Facebook has plenty of room to grow.  Their recent efforts include the official launch of its Marketing API Program and the release of Facebook for Every Phone

Previously limited to just a few companies, the Facebook Marketing API Program  consists of the Ads, Pages and Insights API.

“Over a million developers have already built socially focused applications on Facebook platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Our marketing API program supports developers who are building applications for marketers – tools that make it easier, for instance, for marketers to build and engage their communities on Facebook Pages, to amplify word of mouth via marketplace advertising and sponsored stories, and to effectively measure social engagement via custom dashboards.

Though there are many directions developers can take with the Marketing APIs, Facebook encourages three specific use cases:

  • Apps offering advanced functionality: Auto-optimize campaigns, generate permutations of ad creatives, etc.
  • Comprehensive, cross-media apps that span paid, owned and earned media: Help connect the dots. Facebook's example: "Page posts can be synced with Ad Campaigns, and Page Insights can be aligned with Ad Performance reports to monitor the cross-talk between owned, earned, and paid media."
  • Apps addressing custom, vertical or niche needs: Cater to specific, smaller markets in a way Facebook does not have a history of doing.

Pricing has of course been another issue in the digital advertising world, but if Facebook can manage to provide enough viable competition, the natural order of things will include lower fees, and, as a result, more advertisers.

Meanwhile, Facebook for Every Phone works with 2,500 feature phones across cellular carriers worldwide, aiming to bring the social network to users that do not have the luxury of smartphones or computers. Because the app is built with Java, but uses less data than other Java applications or an HTML5 mobile website, the service is reportedly more affordable.

In the Western world it sounds less than exciting, but the move could very well increase the use of Facebook across the globe. And while this move doesn't promise to directly affect display ads, the more exposure the better, right?