What Produced Such Huge Gains for Facebook’s Mobile Growth?

Facebook’s Q2 reports show that the company’s mobile ad revenue grew 74 percent year-over-year.

In Q2, Facebook’s ad revenue was $3.83 billion, up 43 percent from last year. Of the total, $2.9 billion – or 76 percent – came from mobile.

“We continue to get more than one out of every five minutes on smartphones in the U.S., and mobile usage is driving our growth globally as well,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said in the company’s earnings call.

Sandberg continued that video is a big driving force in Facebook’s ad revenue growth. “With so many consumer videos being watched on Facebook, video ads are a natural part of the News Feed experience,” she added. According to Stevie Dove, director social media and branded content for SapientNitro, more than half of the agency’s clients are purchasing Facebook autoplay video ads as part of their marketing mix.

“We are seeing incredible numbers on our video content that’s promoted on Facebook; Autoplay is probably the leading driver in Facebook’s mobile growth,” Dove says, adding that Facebook has taken video interactions and users’ interest in videos into consideration. “[But] as great as Facebook video ads are (and as great as their earnings are) they will need to continue to innovate – and quickly, or consumers will get bored.”

In Q2, Facebook gave marketers more flexibility to purchase video views of more than 10 seconds. In the past, Facebook counted a video view as three seconds, which could be problematic for some advertisers, as viewers might just scroll through their News Feeds. Brad O’Brien, director of paid social for 3Q Digital, thinks this makes Autoplay video ads more appealing. 

In addition to video, Facebook introduced a slew of ad formats and made them more effective in Q2. This past June, the social network started testing Lead Ads, an ad unit that allows users to auto-fill their email address, phone number, or other info they’ve registered with Facebook. The company expanded Carousel Ads to show multiple images in one ad unit. It also rolled out Dynamic Product Ads where brands can remarket to consumers using products that they viewed outside of Facebook.

According to O’Brien, Carousel Ads is the biggest driver for Facebook’s mobile growth. Originally known as Multi-Product Ads, Carousel Ads was mainly used by e-commerce retailers.

“In Q2, Facebook rebranded Carousel Ads and rolled it out for mobile app campaigns, which generated lots of excitement around mobile creative. In Q2, around 73 percent of our clients used Carousel Ads in some way,” O’Brien explains. “In general, mobile clicks are much cheaper than desktop clicks, while the mobile click-through-rate (CTR) is much higher. Even if your Facebook mobile campaign doesn’t convert users right away on a last-click basis, you can still get high engagement rate, high CTR, low cost-per-click and thus create a large pool of traffic. Then you can retarget to desktop that has higher converting placements.”

Of course, mobile opportunity with Facebook goes beyond the Facebook app. The company is operating a number of other distinct apps, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as its own Messenger app.

“Instagram has opened up itself to more and more advertisers, and is becoming Facebook’s major focus. I think that could be the direction of other Facebook owned-and-operated mobile apps,” O’Brien says.

With enhanced mobile and video capabilities, will Facebook’s mobile ad revenue hit new highs in Q3?

Homepage image via Facebook

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