Facebook ads: Looks like they're more effective on mobile

The social network is struggling with the transition from desktop to mobile, yet evidence is emerging that there's more money in mobile.

A mobile ad on Facebook

When Facebook reports its first quarterly earnings as a public company later today, all eyes will be on how well the company is doing with mobile. More and more users are accessing Facebook via smartphones, yet the company only recently started running ads on mobile devices.

Those ads -- and they are only Facebook's first efforts to make money from mobile users -- are in the form of what Facebook calls sponsored stories. Companies can create "stories" that show up in a news feeds of a brand's fans and their friends. Facebook only started adding sponsored stories to mobile in March, and in June it started letting brands target mobile exclusively. So it's unlikely that these led to much money in the latest quarter, which ended in June.

But there are fresh signs of promise. A study by AdParlor, which handles large Facebook ad campaigns for the likes of American Express, LG and Audi, came up with findings that both Facebook and advertisers should like. They include:

  • Mobile users are 15 times more likely to click on an ad than desktop users.
  • Fans coming from mobile comment 22% more than desktop users.
  • Mobile users "like" posts 63% more than non-mobile users.
  • The average click-through rate for a mobile ad, which simply means someone clicked on the ad, is 1.32% compared to .086% for non-mobile ads.

This is compelling data, and what it suggests, says AdParlor CEO Hussein Fazal, is that people reading their news feed on mobile phones tend to treat sponsored stories as interesting content and not as intrusive ads.

"They aren't even seeing them as ads," says Fazal, whose team examined data from more than 200 million ad impressions. "They're just seeing them as organic stories."

His study found that mobile was more effective across several categories, with entertainment leading them all.

AdParlor

While the study found that people interact with mobile ads more than they do with ads on Facebook on the desktop, there were exceptions. Here's a chart that shows what people do after they are "fans" of a brand.

AdParlor

Again, this is just the start of mobile advertising for Facebook. Hopefully we'll get some more color and details of what else is going on from today's conference call.

About the author

Paul Sloan is editor in chief of CNET News. Before joining CNET, he had been a San Francisco-based correspondent for Fortune magazine, an editor at large for Business 2.0 magazine, and a senior producer for CNN. When his fingers aren't on a keyboard, they're usually on a guitar. Email him here.

 

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