Mobile. We as advertisers know it’s important. Google tells us, Microsoft tells us, and intuitively every time we use our mobile devices we know it. As more traffic funnels in from mobile devices, platforms are trying to adapt and so are we as advertisers. This is why Facebook’s 2015 Q1 earnings report got my attention, but first let’s lay out a couple of the big issues with mobile that tie into why Facebook seems to be seeing success in mobile advertising.
Facebook And Mobile
So what kind of issues do mobile devices present? First and foremost, there isn’t a lot of screen for content, including ads. This fact fundamentally:
- Alters the size of the ads
- How the ads are positioned
- What content the ads include
- Many other issues
The search engines have been trying every different format possible to find which works, and while they have had some successes they are innovating on a model that was built for the desktop.
The second issue is that while this experimentation goes on, businesses and brands opting into these betas and tests are often seeing mediocre results, scaring them away from mobile. I’m sure any SEM marketer can tell you about the back and forth of trying to convince a nervous client that they can’t afford to ignore mobile. Yet, often we as marketers can’t tell them we have a slam dunk strategy when it comes to mobile.
So why did Facebook’s 2015 Q1 earnings report spark my interest? A single number buried about halfway through the report: 73%. That’s the percentage of advertising revenue that came from mobile for Facebook.
Let’s recap the numbers a little more in depth. Facebook reported that its overall advertising business was up 46% in the first quarter of 2015 as compared to same period in 2014. More importantly, mobile advertising accounted for 73% of Facebook’s advertising revenue, up from 59% the same quarter a year earlier. Okay, so as a percentage of revenue mobile is doing well for Facebook.
When it comes to user numbers, Facebook reported that daily active users (DAU) in March 2015 were up 17% year over year to 936 million and mobile daily active users were up 31% year over year to 798 million. So not only does it appear that mobile advertising as a percentage of revenue is increasing, but the overall user base (including mobile users) is increasing as well.
I’ve read previous articles on mobile in regards to Google and Facebook, but I hadn’t really let it sink in how much over the last year or so Facebook’s mobile strategy was paying off.
If Facebook is getting more and more of its revenue from mobile ads, I wondered what the mobile ad engagement metrics looked like with one of our own clients active in Facebook advertising. How much different are the desktop and mobile metrics? Which is getting more impressions and clicks? Which is getting competitive cost-per-clicks and ultimately resulting in the most conversion (website) actions?
Let’s look at some basic metrics of the last 90 days for one of our clients active in Facebook advertising. This data is for an ecommerce clothing shop with no physical retail locations. They run multiple types of campaigns, including the recently released dynamic product campaigns. They also run ads in both the right hand column as well as the news feed. For our purposes here we’re going to focus on the news feed advertising as its accounts for the most clicks and conversions.
Some words of warning as this data lumps together multiple campaign types into a single stream of data. So the aggregated data view below may not hold true for individual campaigns or campaign types. Bidding models and overall budgets will also have an effect on the data – your mileage will vary depending on the specific strategies in your account.
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s see whether desktop or mobile is getting the better results for our client.
Ecommerce Clothing Retailer – Facebook Data (Last 90 Days)
You can see that across all metrics, mobile is winning out against desktop. Not only is it getting a lot more impressions, but it’s also getting cheaper CPC’s and a higher CTR. The clicks are also resulting in a fair amount of conversions, so for this client Facebook is providing a good amount of converting traffic from mobile.
This lines up with what Facebook is reporting in their earnings report, though it is by no means an exhaustive analysis. It’s meant merely to illustrate what we see in our advertising as compared to what Facebook is reporting.
What Gives? How Is Facebook Growing So Much In The Mobile Space?
It appears that Facebook’s mobile first strategy instituted a couple of years ago is continuing to pay dividends in their advertising business. Focusing on producing native apps that run smoothly on iOS and Android and a design that focuses on a clear and concise mobile experience is not driving users away, but bringing them in. They’ve also been busy building other standalone apps that plug into the Facebook ecosystem and in the process allow content and advertising to coexist.
Facebook appears to be making large gains in mobile advertising to the point that a majority of their advertising dollars are coming from mobile. If our internal data from our client above is any indication, businesses can have mobile success on Facebook. If you’re struggling with mobile advertising outside of Facebook or just want to find another platform to get mobile traffic, you should give Facebook a try. At this point, I don’t think you can afford to ignore it.