One significant component of Facebook Home for Android is that it pulls visual content from News Feed onto the lockscreen of a user’s device so they can browse stories from friends and interact with them without first visiting the homescreen and opening the Facebook app.
The idea of fullscreen photos automatically scrolling across a user’s device this way is particularly interesting for advertisers.
Sponsored content won’t appear in this “cover feed” right away, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it could at some point. Some of Facebook’s clients and developers were told ads would appear here “soon.”
Posts from pages users Like are already eligible for cover feed. It’s likely that Facebook could open inventory for Page Post Ads and Sponsored Stories after Home gets some strong adoption and the company sees how users interact with content they see here. It doesn’t make sense to sell ad space in Home until there is a meaningful population to reach and Facebook better understands how people use it.
Cover feed placement seems like it could be the equivalent of a Facebook Premium buy for mobile because of the size and unique opportunity to reach a user on the lockscreen. But because Home is limited to certain Android devices, reach is likely to be lower than what a large advertiser would be looking for.
With Home it also seems as though there would be potential to offer more real-time, location-based advertising because users don’t have to be browsing News Feed to see an ad. Relevant content could be pushed to them. Facebook News Feed product manager Jeff Kanter told us recently that the company was more focused on the basics of getting feed-based ads right than creating more advanced types of mobile advertising.
“A lot of people will talk about the holy grail of advertising where you’re walking down the street and your phone is buzzing with alerts about deals around you and a movie’s playing nearby,” he said. “I think it’s an awesome vision and the world will get there, but at this point in time, mobile advertising is working really well because it’s where people are spending their time and it can achieve the same brand objectives that advertisers are trying to do elsewhere.”
Facebook has also been trying to make its advertising options more consistent across desktop and mobile. It would be unlikely for the company at this stage to create a new ad type for Home that doesn’t have an equivalent on iOS or some Android devices. Over time, though, after bringing basic Page Post Ads, Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories to Home’s cover feed, the social network could introduce more specialized ads for the experience.
Until then, Home could become an effective placement for the Facebook ads that businesses are already familiar with. The fullscreen photos and easy ways to interact, such as double-tapping to Like a post, could be very positive for clickthrough rates and engagement.