Facebook focuses on mobile

27 August 2012

NEW YORK: Facebook, the social network, is looking to protect its digital ad revenue by enhancing its mobile strategy, and engaging the growing number of users now logging on via wireless devices.

"We have basically retooled and focused the company around mobile," said Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's vice president for engineering.

This firm's new approach aims to enhance the value of mobile ads, which derive less revenue than the web alternative, due both to technical limitations such as not supporting Adobe Flash, and as users find such messages more irritating on small screens.

Vowing to put "mobile first", Facebook has released new versions of its iPhone and iPad apps, which have been rewritten in Apple's native programming language for improved functionality.

The site has also been working with Apple to integrate specific features into the forthcoming iOS6 operating system. These include photo-sharing capabilities and the chance to use Siri, the iPhone's voice-recognition software, to post status updates.

Internally, Facebook's product teams will now create mobile versions of new features concurrently with the web versions, instead of doing mobile translations following a feature's online launch.

To further develop its position, Facebook has developed an on-going training scheme. It has trained 100 engineers to write apps, and Schroepfer said this programme will soon be open to all employees, including those in marketing and design.

The end-goal of these changes is to ensure the company offers a compelling proposition for advertisers without alienating users.

Key mobile marketing strategies include sponsored stories, according to Gokul Rajaram, product director of ads at Facebook. These treat users' posts as ads, and amplify world of mouth.

Facebook is also using a new ad tool which allows brands to post offers to their pages. If sponsored, these will also appear in users' news feeds.

Company executives, however, have declined to comment on rumours that Facebook is working on its own mobile operating system and phone, saying they will not comment on "unannounced products".

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff