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How to Win the Facebook Mobile Ad War

Mobile ad spending is expected to be approximately 72% of total digital ad spend by 2019. This prediction isn’t surprising, given that as of 2015, people in the United States were spending a greater percentage of their online time on mobile devices (51%) than on desktops and laptops (42%).

 

In fact, while desktops still remain the most popular medium for accessing the web (91% of internet users), mobile devices are fast catching up, with 80% of internet users now owning a smartphone.

 

In 2012, Facebook decided to adopt a mobile-first strategy as it saw a shift in how people were accessing the platform. The strategy seems to be paying off well. The social media giant reported more than a 50% rise in its quarterly revenue in the first quarter of 2016. A large part of it was driven by mobile ads, which accounted for approximately 82% of the total revenue.

 

Facebook’s push into live videos, coupled with increasing usage of mobile devices, seems to be doing the trick. The emergence of new categories of mobile devices such as smart watches makes the case stronger in favor of Facebook mobile ads.

 

Ad prices on Facebook increased by 9% in the second quarter of 2016, year-on-year. The trend is likely to continue, despite an increase in ad impressions, and more so in the case of mobile advertising.

 

Facebook does not show right-hand column ads on mobile devices due to the limited screen size. That itself pushes the average cost of ad prices upwards when compared to desktops. Despite the increase, the social media giant still posted a very healthy demand, both in terms of existing customers and new customers.

 

The surge in increased digital and mobile ad spend can put a strain on small companies. According to SeatGeek, a ticketing retailer, it had to cut down its Facebook mobile ad spend from 100% in 2013 to 30% in 2015.

 

However, if you plan your game right, you don’t have to take such drastic measures, despite the upwards trend in prices of Facebook advertising.

 

Tips for Successful Facebook Mobile Advertising

 

Design for small screens

More than 50% of Facebook users access the social network through a mobile device only. That figure comes down to 823 million and is expected to grow rapidly in the near future. As a marketer thus, it becomes imperative that you optimize ads for smaller screen sizes of mobile devices.

 

For instance, a headline that may work well on desktops might be cut off abruptly on mobile screens. When that happens, you lose out on the chance to make your complete value proposition, and hence, your audience. Preview your ad on multiple devices before you make your campaign live.

 

Facebook’s Carousel ad format works great for mobile devices. Brands have been using the multiple-image format to bring down their cost of acquisition. Carousel ads can also be used to teach people how to use your product. In fact, the ad format opens up a lot of creative opportunities to make your ad campaigns more engaging.

 

Location and immediacy are key

The biggest charm of mobile advertising is the ability to target people in the vicinity of your business. Attention spans have fallen from 12 seconds at the start of the century to 8 seconds. What that also means is people are looking for immediate solutions to their problems.

 

That’s where, as a marketer, you should really cash in on Facebook’s granular location targeting options. For instance, if you are a clothing brand running a sale during the holiday season, you could target ads at everyone who is in a two-kilometer radius of your store.

 

Depending on your marketing budget, you could incentivize mobile users by giving away additional discount coupons. You are more likely to have a walk-in when a person is close to your store than when he is driving home from work.

 

The strategy could be used for any verticals, including restaurants, salons and even nightclubs.

 

Don’t forget video ads

Almost 66% marketers in the US plan to use video ads to promote their products or services. Recent research has shown that mobile video ads have 40% better retention rates than non-video ad formats. As digital marketing shifts from intrusive, shout-out ads to more engaging methods of selling, video ads could play a huge role in the near future. Videos give you an opportunity to tell your brand story and make people a part of your brand – a strategy that’s more likely to work. In fact, more than 50% people said watching video ads increased their confidence in a brand.

 

While video ads are still new to the platform, studies suggest that ads between 30 and 60 seconds receive the highest completion rate. However, the attention span of mobile and online users are shorter than that of a goldfish’s. This means video ads need to clearly communicate their value right from the beginning. A Facebook commissioned study found that 10 seconds is the sweet spot for brand impact.

 

Also, make sure you include subtitles in your ads as many mobile videos are viewed with the sound off.

 

Add Instagram to the mix

More than 50% of people in the age group of 18-29 years are on the image-sharing social network. While the mobile-only Instagram ads can be more expensive than Facebook ads, they can also deliver more in terms of revenue. Shopify reported that Instagram users spend $65 on a purchase on average, compared to $55 for Facebook users.

 

Start small and see what resonates with your audience. It is also important that you pick the ad format that ties in with your goal. For instance, if you are looking to coax your audience into buying, carousel ads is the best option. If engagement is your goal, video ads might be the way to go.

 

While Facebook might have done away with its 20% image rule, it is important that you keep the text in your image ad to a bare minimum. It will not only show up to a wider audience but is more likely to get a better conversion rate.

 

Alexis Ng

Digital marketer with a love for the ocean, yoga and constellations. Watches too much TV.

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