Facebook is almost ready to tackle what pretty much everyone else has already done – advertise on mobile devices.
From Fat Booth and Auto-Tune to Peep and Pandora – every dumb app that’s on my phone forces advertising down my throat. Whether I’m tweeting or playing a word, I skip through a handful of meaningless, irrelevant ads about creating an online zoo or what’s on Lifetime tonight, etc. Do I care? No. But that’s the price I pay for…well…not paying for any of the apps on my phone.
Facebook mobile, on the other hand, has been a breath of fresh, ad free air.
Facebook is going public, so there’s an added pressure to bring in the big(ger) bucks and with that comes mobile ads. Sorry, folks.
I took the lack of advertising on Facebook for granted, assuming they were just being nice. But, they’re no dummies. Users are numb to traditional ad banners, so Facebook has taken the time to think it over and kick it up a notch. Sponsored stories, launched in December 2011, are set to appear in the mobile news feed mixed in with posts by your friends. It sounds fairly simple, and I trust Facebook to keep mobile ads as painless as possible.
While I’m not crazy about the idea, I understand why this is happening. With nearly 50% of its users checking their news feeds via mobile devices—and smart phones outselling PCs—it’s obvious that Facebook has been missing out. And call me wacky, but I actually enjoy sponsored stories. I’ve discovered some amazing products, sites and stores thanks to them. Knowing that I have friends who endorse them certainly helps.
If these people like it, I can’t go wrong, right? (Then again, do I need to know that my Dad likes Cosmo magazine? Gross!)
So, what have they been waiting for? Apparently, getting mobile ads to work effectively isn’t as easy as you’d think. Making money off of mobile products, without turning off users, has proven to be difficult and unsuccessful so far. And Facebook has taken that itty-bitty mobile screen into consideration, so that these ads are as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
There’s one last thing to consider: the “creep” factor. You may have loads of data on your laptop or PC, but think about how much information is on your phone. Text messages, photos, shopping lists, bank account information, and more are all always connected, always on, and always with you. Your phone knows where you’re going, where you’ve been, and practically what you’re thinking. In addition, Facebook doesn’t forget anything either. That embarrassing status or photo is still lingering in there somewhere. Combine all of that with the potential advertising and it’s enough to make you want to destroy all electronics and become a mountain (wo)man.
But it’s okay. This is the future!
So, enjoy your ad free mobile Facebook while it lasts; they’re scheduled to start appearing on your cell by March.