An Introduction to Facebook Mobile Ads

This article originally appeared in the Facebook Marketing Bible, our subscription product for marketers and advertisers looking to better understand the Facebook platform.

Nearly 60 percent of Facebook users are mobile users, up from about 47 percent a year ago. With the Facebook adapting to this transition, the company has introduced new ways to buy ads that show up on mobile and reach this emerging audience.

This article will walk you through the different mobile ads that can be purchased and how you can use targeting options to reach people most likely to click your ads on mobile.

With no ad column available on Facebook’s mobile site or applications, mobile ads appear in News Feed. These can appear as Sponsored Stories or Page Post Ads. Marketplace Ads are not yet available on mobile. However, you can also purchase Promoted Posts to appear in more fans’ feeds.

Facebook has also implemented new targeting options for advertisers looking to market mobile apps, products or services. These targeting options allow you to reach specific audiences, using the details of which mobile device they use to access Facebook.

Sponsored Stories

Sponsored Stories often appear under the headline “Pages You May Like.” These ads use social context and appear as a separate module from page or user posts. Users can click the thumbs-up button to like the respective page, making it a lightweight engagement for business looking to build their page likes.

On the web version of Facebook, these Sponsored Stories appear like this in News Feed:

The web version has a less clear call to action because the ad is without a “thumbs up” logo. However it includes a friend’s profile photo.

There are options to promote actions besides page Likes. For example, advertisers can sponsor stories about users claiming offers, Liking photos or using Open Graph applications.

Page Post Ads

Page post mobile ads appear directly in News Feed. They do not require social context, meaning they can be targeted to users beyond fans and friends of fans. A prompt to Like the page is featured at the bottom of the ad. These are larger units than some of the “Pages You May Like” Sponsored Stories described above. Although the example below uses a link, these mobile ads can include photos, offers, questions, videos or events. Sometimes these ads include a “Suggested Post” label at the top.

On the web, these ads look like this:

On the web, these ads are easier to interact with because when clicked, the photo or video appears as a layer over News Feed rather than loading a whole new page. These ads work as a way to get people to engage with your page posts, even people that aren’t already fans of your page. These ads allow you to share actual page content so quality will go a long way. However, the Like call to action is smaller on the web than on mobile.

Mobile App Install Ads

Ads for mobile apps are another ad type that can be purchased. These are similar to Sponsored Stories in that they often appear in a separate module, but instead of prompting users to Like a page, they lead users directly to an app download page. Like page post ads, app install ads do not require social context.

Mobile app install ads are a great way to drive downloads through lightweight interaction. Trying to promote mobile apps on desktop has limitations. These types of ads do not appear in the News Feed on the web version of Facebook. The only option is to run ads in the right-hand column, but then there is disconnect between users being on a computer and then getting the app on their phone. Mobile app install ads allow developers to reach the right users at the right time.

Promoted Posts

Promoted Posts are not bought through the Facebook Ads marketplace, and through the promote button on pages instead. These are not ads exactly, but a way to ensure that your posts are seen by more people. However, because they are not bought through the ads marketplace, they do not have the same targeting options. They can only be shown to existing fans and friends of fans, and page owners should think about targeting the initial page post to a narrower audience than all fans.

Promoted Posts have the same properties as a traditional story that fans would see in News Feed, making them even more inconspicuous than a Page Post Ad. Instead of a button to Like the page, these units include options to interact with the post by Liking, commenting or sharing. These are a great way to engage existing fans on mobile applications or desktop, wherever they are more likely to discover your content. Facebook will optimize where these should be displayed.

The same Promoted Post as it appears on desktop:

Targeting Options

In the broad category section of the targeting options, Facebook allows you to target people by the way they access Facebook. Recently, the social network added more specific device types and operating systems to target.

For example, if you were to check mobile users, the ads would appear to any mobile user. However, there are much more strategic ways to use these targeting options. For example, say that you are advertising an application that is designed for TV watchers, but your app is only available on iOS. By working with the targeting options, you can create an ad for people with an iPhone 4S that like the show Mad Men and prompt them to download your app. This makes it easier to drive downloads of your app among a relevant audience.

This article is a free preview from the Facebook Marketing Bible, our subscription product for marketers and advertisers looking to better understand the Facebook platform. For more insights, expert analysis, how-tos and case studies, subscribe to the Facebook Marketing Bible.