"We do not currently directly generate any meaningful revenue from the use of Facebook mobile products, and our ability to do so successfully is unproven... and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected."
That quote is straight from the mouth of Facebook, as part of their amended IPO filings prior to going public in May. It was this sort of speculation that was echoed by analysts during Facebook's massive stock plunge following the IPO. One such analyst cited Facebook's struggle to monetize their mobile platform as reasoning that the company would "disappear" before 2020.
Class-action lawsuits were even filed that accused Facebook of concealing "severe and pronounced reduction" in revenue growth prior to the IPO.
The general consensus from Facebook doubters has been a complete lack of faith that the company could successfully monetize mobile, and since everyone is moving towards mobile, that's a pretty big kink in their plans. Mobile ads on the Facebook platform have only existed for a few weeks, and as of right now the only type of mobile ad appearing on Facebook are Sponsored Stories in the News Feed (no traditional, right-side ads).
But some new information from some of Facebook's Ads API partners suggests that Facebook mobile ads are wildly successful - much more so that desktop ads.
SocialCode data reported by AdAge suggests that the click-through rate for Facebook's mobile ads (appearing as Sponsored Stories in the mobile News Feed) is more than quadruple the CTR of all ad placements - and more than double that of ads in the desktop News Feed. They report a CTR of 0.79% for mobile-only ads, as opposed to 0.148% when it comes to all five types of ads combined (mobile only, desktop News Feed only, desktop right-side ads, mobile & desktop news-feed only, and ads across all platforms).
When it came to the same types of Sponsored Stories ads on desktop, the CTR was 0.327%. CPMs for the mobile-only ads were $7.51, compared to $1.62 across all ad platforms. SocialCode suggested that these mobile Sponsored Stories are "less disruptive" that traditional ads - a point that we've speculated on for some time.
TechCrunch got a hold of some more partner data and the trend appears to be the same. TBG Digital reported mobile Sponsored Stories with a CTR of 1.14% at $0.86 CPC. Total this out and you get $9.86 per 1000 impressions. Compare that to the stats for desktop Sponsored Stories, which see a .588% CTR at $0.63 for a CPM of $3.72.
You find even more discrepancy when you look at their data for ads across all platforms - 0.083% CTR at $0.88 CPC for a CPM of $0.74.
Data from Spruce Media and AdParlor followed suit - the latter reporting a 25x better CTR for the mobile ads.
So...are the mobile ads working? It appears that Facebook's recent decision to break up the ad offerings and allow advertisers to buy mobile-only sponsored stories has paid off - and will continue to pay off when advertisers see these numbers.
When you couple that with the fact that Facebook is working on a real-time ad bidding service for more targeted ads and are rumored to be possibly working on location-based mobile ads, the company's monetization outlook doesn't look so dire. Don't look now, but Facebook stock it up for a third-straight day to close Monday at $31.41 - up nearly $6 from its low point but of course still way below the initial IPO price of $38.