Memo to: Mark Zuckerberg
From: Alexandre Mars, CEO of Phonevalley and Head of Mobile of Publicis Groupe
Re: Mobile Advertising – Bring It!
Mark, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that you are the king of mocial (mobile/social as I call it). Next to weather and things like catapulted avians, in terms of share of consumer attention on mobile devices, you absolutely rule. Just take a look at your 10-K filing. You’ve got 425 million active monthly mobile users as of December ’11 (note: that is not the number of people who have ever downloaded the app, but an active user number, which is what advertisers really care about). Mobile devices basically enable and enhance people wanting to share information via Facebook. I personally can’t watch TV without my phone in my hands. And if I’m like a whole lot of consumers, I am also reacting to TV ads with my phone and telling my friends about things from marketers that capture my attention. Wow, you actually are making one-way media interactive. Powerful stuff.
But what’s wrong with this picture? There are no ads to monetize all that focused, engaged consumer attention. And despite the fact that your character in "The Social Network" constantly said no to ads, you are now driving the largest volume of impressions in wired display and have disrupted that ecosystem entirely, leaving Yahoo and Microsoft, our former reach leaders, to scramble for new ways to connect with mass audiences. And yes, despite the cut of virtual goods sold, you admitted in your 10-K that 85% of your current revenue is related to advertising.
I’m writing to encourage you to just turn them on. Yes, consumers may be a bit alarmed at the change, but just like with any other media, they tend to become accepting over time. Did turning on ads on the web version of Facebook kill your traffic? Hardly. I know that according to sources like Ad Age, you are considering inserted sponsored posts into consumer’s feeds. But what’s wrong with a good and basic banner unit? I want to draw your special attention to what you will get if you add an ad to each page of Facebook content that you do not get from the wired web:
1. Unparalleled reach: of those millions globally who access Facebook on a regular basis. Mobile has long been derided as too fragmented for marketers. With one ad unit, you solve that problem.
2. Focused attention and likely higher recall: there is one ad per page of content and thus no clutter, and that ad is in line of site (unlike the wired web, there are no ads “below the fold”). There is a true association of the ad with that content. Marketers are going to love this.
3. The ad unit may be a simple banner at the top or bottom of content, but it can open up to so much more. We’ve made great strides with rich media and several companies now have the capability of creating engaging full-screen ad executions that run across mobile web, app and phone platforms. You are the unifying force because you provide unparalleled scale. Regardless of phone or modality, people just love Facebook. It’s a part of their lives. Marketers want to reach consumers through their passion points. Take away their Facebook one day and you will see passion -- a negative sort -- expressed.
4. No potential privacy intrusive concerns about the matching of data from people’s profiles with the ads. We don’t have persistent cookies in mobile. You run decent ads; you frequency cap them. You can target them by IP for basic location relevance or if the consumer has turned on location from within the app, you get even greater location precision. The ads will likely deliver on both direct-response and brand metrics as we know how focused people are when they check their Facebook stream; after all, it’s content they created that is tailored to their interests.
But what will consumers say, you ask? Yes, it may take some getting used to -- but time and time again, consumers have voted for ad support over paying for content. (For proof of this, see the current trends in app store payment supported by app analyst company Distimo. As more and more apps are released, the pressure on pricing is downward and more apps are choosing ad support or freemium models.)
If you want to be really smart, you give consumers a choice: they get an ad-supported version or they pay a one-time fee for download of the app. In all the research that Publicis’s VivaKi division has done with consumers and interactive advertising through an initiative called The Pool, the more consumers are given a choice, the higher the recall and favorability they extend to the brands involved. Let’s say they choose ad support and you sell a one day takeover of all U.S. inventory to an advertiser like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart gets unparalleled reach and the ad makes the explicit connection that your Facebook activity for the day is brought to you by.
Yes, Mark -- it’s a bold step to embrace advertising in mobile. But it’s the right move. And something tells me that you’re going to make a lot of money out of this. The advice is free, just friend me back some time. I promise not to post any cat pictures.