Social Media

What Marketers Should Know About Facebook’s Mobile Optimization

September 15, 2016

Recently, Facebook announced that the platform will begin to prefetch content on mobile to expedite mobile site load time by 29% or 8.5 seconds. Prefetching means that the platform will begin pre-loading organic and paid link content in the News Feed before a link is ever tapped.

On average, a Facebook user waits approximately 8-14 seconds before the link they tap opens to a mobile website. As 40% of website users abandon the experience after three seconds of delay, Facebook finds it necessary to optimize the mobile experience for both users and businesses.

In addition to prefetching content, Facebook also plans to make updates to its ad auction and delivery system in the coming month in order to make ads more effective. This means that the Facebook Ads platform will soon take into account landing page load speed and user connectivity.

Why is Facebook Investing in Prefetching?

Since 91% of Facebook’s billion monthly active users login in via mobile, the mobile user experience has become the primary priority for the platform. With this volume of mobile usage, Facebook is striving to make the platform as streamlined as possible for both user satisfaction and ad effectiveness. This update also comes in the wake of Facebook’s competitor, Google, launch of “Accelerated Mobile Pages” that cut load times by 15-85%, driving Facebook to take action with urgency.

Over the past few months, Facebook has already brought mobile-optimized experiences to the platform (as with Canvas, Pages and in-app browsing capabilities) that have impacted businesses in a positive way. In particular, Canvas ads (Facebook’s microsite-like, mobile-only, immersive ad-experience) have proven to be one of the most effective ad units in terms of ad recall, time spent and return on investment. The success of Canvas is partly attributed to its ability to load 10 times faster than the average mobile website.

Though Canvas provides various other benefits to advertisers, like immersive creative, mobile optimization is low hanging fruit for advertisers who want to make the most of their media dollars. Facebook hopes that lowering ad delivery based on suboptimal mobile websites and user connectivity will drive advertisers to invest in mobile sites that are on par with desktop, so every mobile ad can be as effective as Canvas.

What Should Marketers Expect?

As internet users are spending the majority of their time on both Facebook and mobile, these updates will likely initiate change within the industry. Below are a few changes we can expect to see over the coming weeks:

  • Increased website traffic. Since prefetching will quicken website load time, users who were abandoning websites after the three-second delay will no longer be inclined to do so. Ads will now load 29% faster, streamlining the mobile user experience and encouraging users to read, learn or explore more on a business or publishers mobile site.
  • Decreased discrepancy between Clicks and Website Views. Previously, the discrepancy between clicks and people actually landing on the site resulted in two problems: 1. Decreased data for the Facebook algorithm to use when optimizing ads to users likely to view website content or make a conversion and 2. Inefficient costs for advertisers bidding on a CPC to drive website traffic. Now, with improved site load time, marketers will get more value with CPC and oCPM bidding.
  • Updated mobile websites. As publishers and businesses have become accustom to the results of Facebook’s ads, we are likely to see a majority of businesses invest in their mobile web presence to prevent the risk of lower ad delivery and better the Facebook user experience.
  • A decrease in link content. Businesses that do not have the budget to update their mobile web presence have been likely to invest more in static, video, Canvas and other creative units that do not drive off platform. In fact, we may see small to medium sized businesses transition their mobile web presence to Facebook completely, eliminating link content from their strategy.

What Should Marketers Do Now?

Website Developers: As of now, Facebook recommends that web developers follow the below tips to better optimize their mobile web presence.

  1. Minimize landing page redirects, plugins and link shorteners
  2. Compress files to decrease mobile rending time
  3. Utilize multi-region hosting to improve server response time
  4. Use a high-quality Content Delivery Network to reach audiences more efficiently
  5. Remove render-blocking javascript

To better understand the current state of your brand’s mobile presence, use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and WebPageTest. Google PageSpeed Insights will estimate a website’s load time and suggest ways to reduce it. A score of 80/100 is considered good. WebPageTest will pinpoint images or files present on a webpage that should be compressed. A score of “A” or “B” is considered good.

Social Marketers: Until sites are optimized for mobile, social marketers should follow the below best practices:

  1. Prioritize on-platform experiences by using Facebook Canvas
  2. Optimize ads that drive off the Facebook platform for Desktop only
  3. Avoid driving off platform by leveraging video to tell more detailed stories in social

Mobile optimized websites and ad delivery are more examples of Facebook platform updates based on user behavior. To find success, advertisers should mirror their social strategy with that of Facebook—user first. This will ensure that no platform updates will impede on overarching business objectives.