Jony Ive designs iPhone 5C.
Credit: the Internets.


Jony Ive designs iPhone 5C.

Credit: the Internets.

Facebook, There are Better Ways to Display Mobile Ads

The internet raves today about Facebook, because of the private messages that users told went public, which the social network denies. But what struck me today when I opened my News Feed expecting to stumble upon juicy private messages is the huge Ad banner that didn’t even fit my iPhone’s screen. It looks like Facebook partnered with Apple so that you need an iPhone 5 to fully see the ads.

Facebook Mobile Ads

It reminded me about the article on US Mobile Advertising Revenue published by eMarketer earlier this month, which predicted Facebook growth in mobile business.

Is today’s giant ad supposed to drive Facebook forward in mobile business and generate $387 million of mobile advertising revenue in 2013? And almost double this amount in 2014?

US Net Ad Revenues, by Company, 2011-2014

Advertising is a mainstream revenue business model for many companies, especially those who have millions of daily users and the free + ad strategy works well on the web.

Web advertising started with giant (ugly) banners that pleased advertisers and annoyed users. This was until Google came, and became the worldwide leader in online advertising by banning banners and limiting ads to text.

Will the same story happen all over again? Lysol must be pleased today when they see their giant banner in my News Feed. I am NOT.

The banner is too big. For an ugly image, with a badly chosen font at least. There are better ways to display Mobile Ads. Let’s take a look at the enemies.

Twitter launched promoted tweets and promoted trends in March 2012. eMarketer projects that Twitter will earn $129.7 million in mobile advertising revenues this year in the US.

Does this revenue come from giant banners? Let’s take a look at the UX of those revenue generators. First, I don’t always see the Promoted Tweets. To take the screenshot below, I had to scroll down my Twitter Feed for ten seconds before I could find a Promoted Tweet.

Promoted Tweets on iOS

Promoted tweets look like regular tweets. The only detail that sets them apart from regular tweets is a neat visible orange icon. Promoted tweets are mixed smoothly into the Feed, still attracting user’s attention. It’s not shocking and users are much more likely to accept them, or even better to click on them. On Facebook too, the Promoted items look like regular items. But the difference between Facebook and Twitter is that I’m ready to see a big photo from one of my friends in my Facebook Feed, but not from an advertiser (that obviously don’t get social media).

But Twitter is still a beginner in that field. Google dominates the $2.61 billion US mobile ad market with 54% share.

Everybody is already accustomed to Google Ads, and we probably unconsciously learned to accept them. It’s just a short text anyway, with a discrete color scheme.

Google Mobile Ads are no exception. Let’s take Google Maps on Android. Everybody now knows that the Maps themselves stand out of the competition, but what iOS users missed in older versions of their mobile software are ads. Android users still have both the right maps and the ads.

Google Maps on Android

The design and UX of these mobile ads allow to distinguish them from the regular content by their color scheme. And it’s no accident that the color scheme is close to the web one. They are placed on the top, like on the web, and then, mixed into the content. And they are contextual. For example, searching for “cafes” gets Ads for… cafes! And that matters for the users who at the same can accept the ad better and are more likely to click on them. It’s also great for advertisers who can target the right audience.

Facebook, I don’t care about Lysol. And if I should remember anything, that’s their ugly design.

I know that after the Facebook IPO, the company is under pressure to generate revenues. But don’t forget that for end users, Facebook should remain a platform to share content with friends.

Think over the UX of Ads and please never fill up more than my iPhone screen with one. Or maybe only if the image is great or funny. Screen your ads before you push them. And since I’m sure you are building models of myself from my data, use it to promote a link that should interest me.

Tell us what you think! (See, I am learning from you, Lysol.) Comment below or tweet to @tweetfr.