Facebook is widely expected to launch a mobile ad network at its f8 developer conference on Wednesday. The new product will be called Facebook Audience Network, as TechCrunch has noted.
Facebook’s mobile ads have been very successful, and they now represent nearly 60% of the company’s ad revenue. Introducing a mobile ad network that allows advertisers to leverage Facebook’s user data in ads delivered across third-party apps could drive even more revenue. But what else should Facebook offer through its ad network?
AdExchanger asked app developers what they are looking for in a mobile ad network and what would help Facebook rise above the pack, which already includes dozens of established players from Millennial Media to iAd.
Speaking from the advertiser’s perspective, Jeff Kear, owner of Planning Pod, which builds event management apps, said, “[O]ne big factor that would influence whether or not I use Facebook's proposed mobile ad platform is whether it will have in-ad engagement opportunities.
“The problem with mobile ads is that, the more clicks are required before an action, the more likely you are to lose your prospect's attention.”
Letting users claim an offer, activate an app or sign up for additional information on the mobile ad are examples of the in-ad engagements that Kear is looking for. Deep linking, which Facebook already offers to app developers, provides a more direct connection to developers’ products and services and could become a standard feature for ads on its network.
Nicole Raymondi said she has promoted her app, Quotiful, which offers inspirational phrases, through Facebook but has found it difficult to track conversions.
“The biggest problem for me is knowing whether or not a user actually downloaded my app after clicking the ad and visiting the app store link,” she said. “In order for Facebook to successfully implement mobile ads they should add the ability to track conversion rates all the way from views to downloads.”
Requiring app users to log in through use Facebook could also become crucial if it enables Facebook to retarget ads across third-party apps. But some app developers, such as Avatron Software, do not ask users to sign in through Facebook because it doesn’t fit the app’s purpose.
“Since our apps are productivity tools, not social media or entertainment apps, there's no way we would ask users for their Facebook info; (it’s) too sleazy,” said Dave Howell, Avatron's founder and CEO. It remains unclear whether other app developers will begin asking users to sign in through Facebook.
Wendell Adams, CEO of app developer AB Mobile Apps, wants more precise effectiveness reporting. It is impossible, Adams claimed, to determine the value of CPMs that app developers are paying on Facebook’s platform.
An app, Adams pointed out, could be used by 1,000 people with annual salaries of $1 million each but would still earn less than an app with 1 million users who are children, based on CPMs.
“If an app has a million users or a thousand, the value of those users should be placed in different categories, something Facebook does not do,” he said. “Facebook and Google suffer from the same problem, they look at CPMs and keywords without really looking at the intent behind it, and as a result the platforms do not deliver the ROI many companies are looking for.”
If Facebook does launch an ad network, ad prices could drop as the Menlo Park, Calif., company boosts the volume of ad inventory – but publishers and advertisers will be hurt in the long run, Adams speculated. “Unless the ROI and quality part of the equation can be addressed this will be a continual problem,” he said.