Facebook's Audience Network: What It Means For Mobile Ads

Facebook, the social media giant that has already made a large dent in the mobile ad ecosystem, today showed it has no plans to stop the momentum: Welcome, Audience Network.

Before today, there were already several factors working in Facebook’s favor: its reach among avid social users, its engaged and captive audience, and its trove of affinity data, which my colleague Nate Elliott talks more about in his blog post here.

After its Audience Network announcement today, Facebook is breaking the application of its tools and its data out of its own silo, and this could benefit several players:

  • Other developers and publishers could make more money by offering Facebook data-infused mobile ads.
  • Advertisers can dip into Facebook’s rich affinity data to target their ads across other mobile properties.
  • And of course, Facebook itself just extended its potential revenue base and faces a new competitive set with the likes of Google AdMob and MIllennialMedia.
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It’s Time To Make Your Mobile Advertising Work

It’s true; the mobile advertising opportunity is huge. With nearly a third of the world’s population toting smartphones, today’s mobile audience is sizable, always addressable, and can be reached with hyper-targeted messages based on mobile data. So it makes perfect sense that marketers, agencies, and ad tech vendors are turning their attention to mobile ads.

But when we look past the excitement in this market we face the reality: It has a long way to go — just because the mobile ad market is growing doesn’t mean that it’s working as well as it could be. Why is this? Well, the marketplace is still evolving and in flux, and there is a lot of deferring to familiar desktop thinking from marketers, agencies, and ad tech vendors. This poses one glaring problem: It completely overlooks the uniqueness of the mobile experience.

The time has come to rethink your mobile ad strategy, and here’s our advice: Divorce your mobile strategy from desktop and focus on integrated, personalized experiences. Here are some steps to help as you go:

  • Accept that mobile advertising is different. Your mobile customers are fundamentally different than your desktop customers — they are task-oriented, using a smaller screen, and demand that their mobile experiences be immediately actionable, simple, and contextually relevant to them. If your mobile customer is fundamentally different, shouldn’t your ad strategy be, too?
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