Both Twitter and Facebook Adopt Mobile Advertising and Both Ignore One Crucial Component
By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
It is always a good feeling when you have an idea and it gets verification from the biggest players in the industry. This week brought a lot of interesting developments in our world of mobile advertising. As Mobile World Congress comes to an end and incredible innovative technologies are introduced, some of the biggest players in the social game seem to have reached the conclusion that when it comes to mobile, they are missing the boat.
Of course, as smartphones dominate the market, it is becoming clearer by the day that mobile developers need a solid way to monetize their apps. In Facebook's filing for IPO, the company listed mobile as an investment risk, since until today, mobile was a black hole as far as Facebook was concerned. The company was not monetizing its mobile users which, according to the company is more than half of its 800 million users.
The same goes for Twitter, the micro blogging service that has taken off in the past few years. In 2011, Twitter's ad revenue was $139.5 million, according to Emarketer, and is expected to grow to $259.9 million this year. Except, again, one little problem. The ads that Twitter serves are promoted accounts and promoted tweets that show up on the site and desktop apps. They also appear on the mobile site but guess where they did not appear until today? Mobile apps.
Great, so both Twitter and Facebook are going to monetize their native mobile apps. For the industry, this is good news as it will surely bring mobile advertising to mainstream audiences. To users, depending on the implementation, this could be helpful if, as Twitter claims, you see ads from companies you already follow.
Except, both Twitter and Facebook's mobile advertising strategy lacks one of the most important components in any mobile advertising campaign. I am not even going to talk about rich media ads, since both Twitter and Facebook will mostly be using text ads. The missing component in both cases is targeting abilities.
Both Twitter and Facebook will sell advertising. They will not offer advertisers the ability to choose where the ads appear, on the desktop or on the mobile phone. That is a major problem as far as relevancy is concerned.
If an advertiser cannot target a mobile user, that means they can't target by location or by content. If Twitter and Facebook would sell ads based on platform, an advertiser would be able to serve an ad to a user that is passing by its location for example. Targeting abilities would also enable a car company to target a user who is currently consuming content from a mobile app that is related to the automotive industry.
By leaving out this crucial component, both companies are significantly reducing the amount of revenue these mobile ads will generate and quite frankly, announcing to the world that its upcoming mobile ads will most likely be irrelevant and downright annoying.
Well, as we launch our new SDK with full targeting abilities including hyper-local ads, plus virtual currency and in-app search abilities, we are thrilled that Facebook and Twitter are joining the race and we are even more thrilled to see that we have and intend on maintaining a serious head start! Let's make it a great race!