Call Button: An Answer To Facebook’s Mobile Ad Woes?

By Justin Lafferty 

Ever since Facebook went public last year, the company has been looking for ways to monetize, especially on mobile. Jason Spievak, CEO of RingRevenue, has an idea that could be a game-changer for businesses (especially local ones) on Facebook — a call button on mobile ads. If customers have questions or want to make purchases based off ads they see on their mobile news feeds, they can contact businesses with one touch.

The call button isn’t a new feature. Business pages on Facebook that have their phone numbers listed already have call buttons on their mobile timelines.

However, that call button functionality could really come in handy on mobile ads, Spievak said. Whereas Facebook ads on desktop can afford to take up large amounts of screen space with pictures because users are more accepting of those kinds of messages, it’s not quite the same on mobile. Through mobile ads, companies have a much smaller window to capture attention. A message that’s too large can be ignored (though some ads can’t be hidden or accept negative feedback) and offers little room for interaction, in many cases.

Take, for instance, this sponsored story from Walmart:

If Facebook users wanted to contact their local Walmarts for appointments, or see when the optometry departments of the stores are open, they would have to go to Google Maps or some other application, look up the closest Walmart, and call the store.

But why should users have to leave Facebook, Spievak argues. His company, RingRevenue, works with companies all over the world to handle the logistics of calling. RingRevenue works with several Fortune 500 companies for call-based marketing, which he says leads to a much higher return on investment than simply clicks.

Spievak thinks that a mobile call button on Facebook’s mobile ads — creating a one-on-one interaction with the company and a potential customer — could be just what the social network and those who market on the site need:

Click-t0-call is a pretty generic term, and there are other definitions for it, but what it is really is enabling that consumer when they are engaged with an advertisement, whether it’s in the search results, or on a publisher’s landing page like Facebook, or directly on the advertiser’s product page. Having the phone number present in the median not only drives some high-quality calls for those advertisers, but it also drives up click-through rates and online participation rates pretty substantially. The reason why advertisers want phone calls is because they convert at a much, much higher rate than click traffic.

Spievak told AllFacebook that, according to RingRevenue studies, clicks convert usually 1 percent to 2 percent, while phone calls have a conversion rate of anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent.

By adding a one-touch call button to Facebook ads, Spievak feels that brands on Facebook could cultivate a better relationship with their fans and potential customers on the social network by being more accessible. If someone who saw the advertisement wanted more information or planned to purchase an item shown, with one tap, they could be connected to a customer-service representative.

Instead, the current Facebook feedback model is hit-or-miss. While clicking on a brand’s Facebook ad leads you to their page, not all brands are quick about responding to questions, although, to be fair to Walmart in the aforementioned ad, someone with the company was responding to serious inquiries about the glasses (among the several acerbic comments about the brand).

But having a call button solves this problem by establishing a connection with the fan and potentially turning them into a customer at a much higher percentage than if the user left a simple like or comment.

Spievak noted that most brands are on Facebook largely for one of two reasons: either to get more awareness or to drive sales. He feels that adding a call button could do both, especially for smaller companies that don’t have the ad budget of bigger brands:

There are many small businesses that have a Facebook page because they feel that they need to be there, but they’re not doing any offers. The local baker, the electrician, the plumber, the movie theater — they’re not selling anything online. They’re using that Facebook to drive engagement with their target customer base and ideally create customers. The way that it works is they pick up the phone … It’s phone rings and door swings, that’s really what it is for the small business. So for Facebook to become even more relevant in mobile, especially for the millions of small businesses that have created Facebook pages, they need to help those customers drive customer engagement the way that they do, and it’s not in display ads, it’s not in impressions, it’s with calls.

Readers: If you saw a call button on a mobile Facebook ad, would you be more willing to contact that business over the phone?

Phone image courtesy of Shutterstock.