Mobile Marketing Social Media

Will Facebook Home Have Ads? Yes, But Not Quite Yet

April 4, 2013

Facebook has announced a new mobile experience – “deeper” than an app or OS – that places a user’s social network at the center of his or her device. It’s called Facebook Home and it’s coming on April 12.

At the April 4 “Home on Android” event, Facebook Founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Facebook Home, a default home screen experience that features a bundle of Facebook apps. “With Home, you see your world through people – not apps,” he said.

This new Facebook homepage app, available for Android devices, features a Cover Feed as both the lock and home screen. TechCrunch’s Josh Constine likens this experience to having a “sixth sense” for your social life. Now, when friends (and soon brands) share content, those updates will be seamlessly incorporated into the home screen of your phone.

Facebook also announced its first-ever branded smartphone, the HTC First, which will run the Facebook-skinned Android experience as the default. At $99, the device is a mid-market bridge between feature phones and more expensive smartphones.

Facebook Home features smooth and natural interactions, mimicking system software instead of an app experience. Users can double tap to Like content, and notifications will include faces in the place of icons. A new messaging feature, called Chat Heads, allows users to message their friends as a layer above other apps.

Facebook Home marks a significant milestone, as it will empower Facebook-first experiences for Android users and HTC One owners. Instead of experiencing Facebook as an app or add-on, phones that have Facebook Home will be truly social by design. Moreover, the move could enable Facebook to capture more user data and deliver more personalized experiences to its users.

With Facebook front and center, it’s reasonable to assume that users will engage with more content as a result. A recent study by IDC reports that smartphone users check Facebook 14 times a day on average. Imagine how this figure might grow if a user’s home screen features updates from friends via Facebook.

So, where do brands fit into Facebook Home? With more data – and more time spent on the network – Facebook Home could prove to be a boon for brands looking to serve up more relevant content to a more engaged (and more mobile) audience.

While Zuckerberg underscored that Facebook Home is about putting people over apps, Adam Mosseri, Director of Product, said that ads will eventually come into the experience, too. The ads will be featured on the home screen, similar to the way in which sponsored posts are included in the News Feed experience. The key difference: ads will occupy the entire screen instead of a segment of the News Feed.

Facebook Home gives advertisers two new opportunities in mobile. First, Facebook Home provides more real estate and the ability to serve high-impact display-like ads to a user’s phone. Second, it allows for real-time local/geo-targeting to potentially be enhanced. Currently, all local/geo-targeting through Facebook is based on where users identify themselves as being from, but with a stronger integrated experience between Facebook and individual devices, advertisers may soon be able to tap into a user’s location at a certain moment in time.

For now, marketers will need to await further news on the upcoming ad opportunities that Facebook Home will come to offer. Adoption rates of Facebook Home among Android users and sales of HTC First phones will indicate if the new mobile experience can win back “Facebook-fatigued” users and make ‘social by default’ the new standard for mobile.

Cover photo via TechCrunch / Image via ZDNet