Facebook target smartphone users for advertising

Any smartphone user who wants to update their Facebook status on their handset will soon have to employ some dexterous finger work to avoid accidentally tapping on ads.

The social media giant is preparing to start monetising its mobile platform by placing its “featured story” ads on iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android Facebook apps, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Facebook could be displaying ads to its smartphone users as early as March in advance of the firm’s much-hyped and anticipated initial public offering (IPO), which is expected to value Mark Zuckerberg’s company at anywhere between $75 billion and $100 billion. The IPO could make 27-year-old Zuckerberg the 23rd richest person on the planet.

Over half of Facebook’s 845 million users are thought to regularly access their accounts using a smartphone, making mobile advertising a potentially huge new source of revenue for the eight-year-old business.

Zuckerberg and his soon-to-be very wealthy Facebook colleagues may have some trouble finding a mobile advertising strategy that works though. No one company has come up with a way to really connect with smartphone users through advertising, due in part to the incredibly small screens they have to work with.

Apple’s iAd and Google’s AdMob services — which can help app developers monetise their creations through advertising — have so far largely failed to catch the imagination of either advertisers or consumers. Mobile still accounts for a relatively small proportion of digital marketing spends across all industries. Google has a 24% share of the US mobile display advertising market, with Apple accounting for 16%, according to figures from the market intelligence firm IDC.

These services rely mainly on tiny banner ads that have limited impact on the smaller screens of smartphone handsets. Facebook’s advertising will be more tightly integrated with service content and targeted at specific user groups. As well as “featured stories” and media-rich advertising content such as videos, Facebook will offer regional deals based on a user’s location. The company launched location-based “check-in” ads in November 2010 that display deals that can be activated once users register their location through a smartphone app. The FT said it would be crucial for Facebook to get its users to opt-in to receiving more personalised forms of mobile marketing through their smartphone handsets.

The article above was written by a guest author

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