Facebook is trialling a new mobile ad system by placing adverts on 3rd party apps and mobile websites based on users’ data and information. This ‘small test’ has been limited to US Android and Apple iOS devices for now, and seems to be a positive move for the social network and its shareholders, who have seen stocks rise by 23% in the last two weeks.
Mobile devices have been a priority for Zuckerberg for some time now, requiring an alternative to the right hand advertising column you can see on the full website version of the social network. These column ads have been a multi-billion dollar business for Facebook, along with the addition of Sponsored Stories, enabling businesses to maximise their visibility on the social platform and Facebook to monetise the user data they are able to access.
However, an excess of ads has been notably absent from Facebook mobile apps as of yet, and so the social giant has turned to placing ads off-site – for example on Zynga.com. Much like Google, Facebook is using anonymised user data to show relevant ads to mobile users on 3rd-party companies and apps. When you click on a banner or full-screen advert, you will then be directed to an app store or the advertiser’s mobile website – although Facebook have asserted that during the trial clicks will not be made traceable to specific Facebook accounts.
As the number of mobile Facebook users rises, shareholders have understandably become a little touchy on the subject of site revenue. A spokesman for the social network explains: “Growth in use of Facebook through our mobile products, where we do not currently display ads, as a substitute for use on personal computers may negatively affect our revenue and financial results.”
App developers have since been able to advertise products within members’ news feeds on mobile devices. But the difference between this and the new trials is that by placing adds off-site, Facebook is preventing mobile news feeds from being flooded with additional ads.
The trial has the potential to strike a balance between monetising the business and retaining a bearable user experience on mobile devices, without sacrificing screen space for advertisements. Or will it open a whole new can of privacy worms…? What are your thoughts on your user data being used in this way?