Facebook reveals plans for mobile ads

Watch out – your phone may no longer be safe from Facebook advertisers.

Mike Segar/Reuters
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg delivers a keynote address at Facebook's "fMC" global event for marketers in New York City on Feb. 29, 2012.

Facebook’s marketing conference in New York today brought big news for social media advertisers. In addition to bringing Offers and new promotional tools to marketers, Facebook is also allowing ads to creep into mobile news feeds.

Facebook execs Sheryl Sandberg and Chris Cox were on hand to talk about the new ad units and to entice businesses to add even more revenue to Facebook’s $4 billion bottom line.

While most of us were expecting a general rollout of Facebook mobile ads today, the mobile angle is a bit more subtle than that. Premium ads constructed from brands’ Page posts will be eligible to show up in the mobile news feed and on the mobile logout page.

A new Reach Generator will turn stories from companies into ads that display on the right side of the Facebook homepage. Stories and deals from businesses will now be distributed all over Facebook in Timelines, in news feeds, and on brands’ Pages. Facebook is emphasizing the transition from ads to stories so companies engage more with their customers instead of just sending them promotional and commercial content.

As Facebook design chief (and Timeline mastermind) Sam Lessin noted in a meeting yesterday, “We want to create a good experience for everyone, and we think these guidelines really help brands… They’re encouraging people to create engaging content that people want to come back to and create and emotional connection with.”

Facebook is also beefing up its commercial offerings with Offers, a free way for businesses to share discounts and promotions.

Along with this morning’s launch of all-new Pages for organizations and brands, today’s announcements add up to a rather new paradigm for Facebook marketers — and third-party Facebook marketing apps.

In light of the Facebook announcement, eMarketer dug up some data on Facebook’s advertising prowess, including the fact that Facebook passed Yahoo to become the top display advertising seller in the US in 2011. eMarketer is quick to point out that Google is ahead, though, and will likely surpass Facebook’s display business next year. Facebook has a growing share of the $12.4 billion U.S. display ad market with a 14 percent slice of the pie in 2011. And this year, Facebook’s share is expected to grow to 16.8 percent. By 2014, Facebook is expected to bring in $7.64 billion in ad revenue alone.

Further, eMarketer estimates mobile advertising spending in the U.S. reached $1.45 billion in 2011, up 89 percent from $769.6 million in 2010. This year, U.S. mobile ad spending will grow 80 percent to $2.61 billion.

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