January 2015

There are 1.19 billion reasons for mobile advertisers to like Facebook. That’s how many mobile monthly active users are on Facebook.

Almost one of every four mobile device users on Earth is active on Facebook. Somewhere in that vast population, almost any brand should be able to find their target audience.

Context on Consumer behavior outside of the Facebook app is needed

But size isn’t everything. No doubt, Facebook and others can provide mobile advertisers access to lots of users.

But what they offer in quantity, they lose in context. That is, they don’t reveal what the consumer is doing outside of the Facebook app.

While they can provide lots of targeting information about what those users do inside their mobile app, they can’t offer any insights into what users do outside their app.

Facebook has from tunnel vision. Brands get the benefit of targeting info that Facebook can collect within its app. But Facebook can’t capture data outside its own app. Therefore, it cannot give a full picture of the mobile user and everything that a user does on their device.

Facebook can’t tell advertisers certain critical details, such as:

  • What other apps is the user running?
  • Is the user spending more time with competitors?
  • Is the user active in apps that are complementary?

Without this complete picture, advertisers are missing an opportunity to get sharper, more accurate insights into their users.

The result: off-target messages and offers, lower conversion rates, and poorer return on the advertising investment.

 

Buy, don’t rent

There’s one other drawback for brands using Facebook to reach their mobile users:

Those users belong to Facebook; they don’t belong to the advertiser.

Brand advertisers can rent access to them, but they don’t own them. And renting has significant downsides:

  • Advertisers that need customized segments need to rely on Facebook or others to extract that information. It’s in an inaccessible black box.
  • The information is hard to connect to the brand advertisers’ other systems. It cannot be easily integrated into CRM, email, or other marketing solutions. Critical user data is stuck in a silo, and executing multi-channel campaigns is much more difficult.
  • Advertisers need to pay for access to their own users. Because Facebook owns the users, they collect a toll each and every time an advertiser needs to reach them. Mobile advertising becomes much more expensive.

 

The advantages of ownership

For brands that want to cast a wide net with their mobile advertising, renting access to their users via Facebook or other vast networks could be a good option.

But for those advertisers that want more control, more accurate segmentation, better integration, and lower advertising expense, they should consider solutions that let them own their user information instead of renting it.