NEW YORK: Advertisers using Facebook to reach a mobile audience now have another variable to consider in their media planning as the social media giant has introduced an option allowing them to target users based on the strength of their phone signal.

That means, for example, that they can avoid wasting time and money serving data-heavy video ads to people who might only have a 2G connection, a factor that will be of benefit to marketers in emerging markets where mobile phone networks are less developed and where feature phones still predominate.

Reporting the development, Advertising Age also noted the "yawning gap" between where the majority of Facebook users are located and where most of its money comes from: the US, Canada and Europe account for just 38% of monthly active users but 72% of ad revenues.

In addition, it said, Facebook's user base in developing markets was growing at four times the rate of its combined user base in its main western markets.

The company's increased focus on emerging markets was also evident last month when it reported that it had been trialling 'missed call' ads in India – where the user rings a number and then hangs up to activate a return call that delivers a pre-recorded audio message – which had generated 16 times more calls than all other media combined.

CEO Cheryl Sandberg indicated then that the service would be rolled out in other developing markets, such as Indonesia and Brazil.

Similarly, it created Facebook for Every Phone, an app for feature phones which is faster than the mobile site and feels more like a smartphone app.

According to a spokeswoman, the new facility for targeting mobile signal strength works across all of the company's ad units and also in conjunction with all other targeting options as well as enabling advertisers to target ads across Facebook's mobile network of third-party apps.

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff