Facebook has in excess of 845 million members, half of whom regularly access the service using a mobile device, so inevitable really that the web behemoth should seek new ways to monetise that usage. Especially so now, on the dawn of the company’s highly anticipated Initial Public Offering (IPO); the largest IPO ever at $5 billion.
If recent reports are anything to go by then users of Facebook’s mobile applications could start seeing ads on their devices as early as March 2012. It’s a move that until now the company has resisted, but is clearly keen to explore.
We are in a world that’s rapidly evolving to appease and exploit a growing mobile market. While on the face of it this provides many exciting opportunities for advertisers, for the majority it proves a frustrating struggle; trying to emulate web success on mobile devices with screens a fraction of the size of a computer monitor.
This is clearly a problem for Facebook, which will find it tricky to implement ads subtlety without upsetting the Facebook massive (if that’s at all possible.) ‘Featured Stories’ appear to be Facebook’s weapon of choice in this circumstance, which do to some degree blend naturally into the Newsfeed without too much disturbance.
That said, this is a community that historically does not react well to change, so no matter how subtle, relevant or engaging ads may be, it’s safe to say that mass uproar is a certainty, at best.
While Facebook can (and has) got away with many things that most wouldn’t in the past, this time it needs to be extra careful to strike the right balance between pleasing its shareholders and not upsetting its users too much. After all, it can’t have both.
Mobile advertising is a tricky one to crack, but if anyone can do it, Facebook can, right?