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Facebook Mobile Ads vs. Desktop Ads – A Quick Case Study

Published: September 7, 2012

Author: Clark Sioson

With the ad placements now available in Power Editor, I conducted a test for a client who wanted to acquire new fans for their page. For this test, only one campaign was created, and it contained two sponsored story like ads. All targets were the same; the only difference was the placement. One ad was set to show in “News Feed Only – Mobile,” and the other was set up for “Desktop Only”:
Facebook ad placements
The purpose of the test was to verify which ad placement would drive the most page likes and produce the lowest cost per like. Here are the results after 5 days of activity.
As expected, the desktop ads had more impressions – they accounted for 95% of the impressions in the entire campaign. While Facebook is still trying to figure out how to integrate ads in their mobile applications (when they do, watch out), desktop ads can be shown everywhere on Facebook, from the newsfeed to the right side of any page within the platform. Mobile ads are currently limited to the user’s news feed.
The news feed mobile ad had an astounding 3% CTR compared to .05% for desktop only. When scrolling down the mobile news feed, the user isn’t surrounded by intrusive ads, and the ad itself blends in with the news feed. The desktop ads are shown on the right-hand side of the page along with a cluster of other ads. The competition with other ads and the fact that the majority of the desktop ads are not blended in the news feed, where the user’s eye is naturally drawn, are likely reasons for the lower CTR.
85% of the actions came from the desktop ads, while mobile ads accounted for 15%. This was expected because of the nature of the devices used. Someone sitting in front of a computer is generally more likely to consume content, for example viewing images and clicking on links, than someone on the go using a mobile device.
Page Likes and Cost Per Like
In this test, the mobile ads came away with the most page likes with 57% — despite spending only 25% of the budget. On the flip side, the desktop ads spent 75% of the budget while acquiring 43% of the likes. The call to action to like the page is more prominent in the mobile ad than it is in the desktop, which could be a reason for the better conversion rate for mobile. Another factor could be the space the mobile ad takes in relation to the screen. With such small real estate, the mobile ad can take up to 1/3 of the entire screen.

SSL mobile
Mobile ad

desktop ad
Desktop ad

The test verified many of my expectations were verified (although the sample size was admittedly limited). More testing needs to be done, but there is no denying that fan acquisition mobile ads will play a major part in Facebook’s future.
Clark Sioson

1 S Wacker Drive
Suite 2250

Chicago, IL 60606(650) 539-4124


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