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Facebook Mobile Ads Underperform Compared to Web

Eye-tracking researcher says mobile ads generate 20 percent less recall
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When Facebook announces its second quarter earnings later today, it will likely discuss its growing emphasis on generating mobile ad revenue. But are users actually seeing the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company’s nascent mobile ad units? Not as well as they probably should be, according to an EyeTrackShop study that compared consumers’ viewing habits in terms of Facebook’s Web ads vs. its iPhone and iPad ads.

When compared to the Web ads, iPhone users notice Facebook’s mobile ads 6 percent less, the time in which they spend looking at them is 14 percent less, and consumers recall the ads 20 percent less, said the eye-tracking services provider.

"People are much quicker to move on to something else on their phones when compared to the Web," said Jeff Bander, president of the three-year-old EyeTrackShop. "Facebook is sensitive to their user base, as they should be. They'll improve the mobile ads in baby steps, and they'll eventually get it."

At the same time, his firm has positive mobile-based findings for Facebook. Again when compared to Facebook’s Web ads, its iPad ads are seen by 18 percent more users and garner a 29 percent increase in dwell time. Recall for these ads is on par with the Web ads, the researcher said. 

The Stockholm-based firm’s test pool consisted of 450 adult consumers who skewed young and female. The company utilized its heat-mapping system—which employs Web cams as part of the methodology—to track how consumers were eyeing over the ads.

Meanwhile, EyeTrackShop's study practically flies in the face of a recent report from social media marketing vendor TBG Digital, which found that Facebook's mobile ads registered higher click-through rates compared to its Web ads.