What Does Facebook Home Mean for Marketers?


By Tal Baron, Account Specialist, and Adam Markey, Senior Product Manager 

It’s no secret that mobile usage is on the rise. Advertising dollars are following to the point that mobile ad revenue forecasts were revised up earlier this month. Facebook is well aware of this trend, and offers News Feed ads through its popular mobile app. As consumers continue to migrate to a tablet and smartphone lifestyle, the natural next step for Facebook is to create a holistic strategy for ads on these mobile devices.

Enter Facebook Home, a service centered on people and their lives, not the apps they’ve installed.  Home will be available on select Android devices, bringing an “always on” Facebook experience to users, with the Cover Feed bringing the News Feed to home and lock screens of mobile devices in a full page view.

Image courtesy of Mashable
Image courtesy of Mashable

Just prior to the announcement of Home, Facebook also announced that Facebook Exchange (FBX) ads will be available on the desktop News Feed in the near future.  FBX is already driving strong display performance by retargeting consumers via the right sidebar with first and third party data. Mobile ads are currently not available with FBX, and ads won’t be available initially on Home as well.  However, it’s quite easy to see that Home could be laying the foundation for a more connected Facebook experience inclusive of ads.

Facebook has a tremendous opportunity here, as the mobile advertising nut has not been cracked.  One major challenge is measurement (“Did my ad work?”) and behavioral targeting (3rd party data). The digital world has not dealt with this issue largely because cookies are considered the standard method of measurement. Although Android browsers support cookies, they don’t provide scale and coverage when in an application, giving advertisers a fragmented view of how their users interact with their brand.

Facebook could help bridge that gap as Home helps unify the Web and App experiences by being the primary means of navigating through your phone: you’re on Facebook whether you’re surfing news or playing Angry Birds. Facebook has more than 680 million mobile users and owns nearly one fifth of total time spent on mobile devices: three times as much as all other social networking apps combined!

In addition to measurement and behavioral targeting, another huge benefit of Facebook Home would be the ability to have control over creative that can utilize the full features of the phone. Imagine having the ability to serve full-page, visually appealing ads to a hyper-targeted audience within moments of looking at their phone. What’s more, Facebook could potentially leverage first party site data collected on desktops and retarget consumers (anonymously, of course) across devices to their smartphone or tablet; a difficult task in the mostly cookie-less mobile environment.

Here’s a theoretical example: it is lunch time and you are looking at different restaurant menus on your work computer. Undecided, you leave the office and check your Facebook Home-enabled smartphone. A real time auction happens in milliseconds between nearby lunch options (restaurants can also geo-target and day-part for lunch hours). Before unlocking the screen or opening an app, a picture of today’s special with a discount coupon or code is served from one of the restaurants you were looking at earlier in the office. This is a win-win – the consumer receives a discounted lunch with little effort in exchange for a sale and word of mouth impressions generated in the buyer’s friends’ News Feeds.

While the above scenario is pure speculation, it’s one example of how Facebook Home could be a step forward in the on-going mission to provide consumers with better more timely ads. The appeal to advertisers is clear – preemptive full-page targeted ads, potentially delivered across devices, to drive better ad performance.

Facebook will have to tread lightly introducing ads into its new ecosystem; as the mobile device is the single most personal device we have today, but it’s clear that Facebook Home can offer a very unique opportunity for marketers.