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Facebook enters mobile ad market

Sponsored Stories and Premium ads to appear in mobile news feed

When Facebook filed for a $5billion IPO last month, it admitted that it wasn't making money from its 425million mobile users. So today's announcement that brands will now be able to place both Premium Ads and Sponsored Stories in the mobile news feed comes as no surprise.

Sponsored Stories are news feed items relating to a brand that have occured naturally, but the brand has paid to make them more prominent. For example, if a user carries out some activity relating to the Starbucks page, that might generate a news story that appears on their friends' feeds – just as any other activity might. Starbucks can then pay to have the news story displayed more prominently.

Premium ads will be displayed in the News Feeds, on desktop and mobile, of people who have Liked that brand. So if these get irritating then a user can get rid of them by unliking. If you're not connected to a brand, they can still put an ad in your sidebar on the desktop site.

Both types of content have a small label which reads "Sponsored" or "Featured". It was also announced that there will now be ads on the logout screen.

Too much?

There's some concern that adverts won't be welcome on mobile devices. A survey from a marketing technology company, Upstream, found that about a quarter of people said they would stop using a product or service if they were subjected to too much advertising, and two-thirds found it "most unacceptable" to receive unwanted advertising messages on their mobiles.

Upstream President Marco Veremis said "Marketers need to be especially mindful that the mobile will always be a deeply personal medium and to avoid a backlash, any advertising must be personal, intimate and targeted."

Will Ashton of Alchemy, a platform for managing Facebook campaigns, told us that the newer tools are all designed to enable advertisers to increase the relevancy of their campaigns. "It's not in advertisers' interests to spam users with irrelevant ads, because they won't perform for them. We've seen excellent results with Sponsored Stories, which indicates that they're an engaging ad format that's delivering relevant content to the user."

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