In recent weeks, both Facebook and Youtube have announced developments in Mobile advertising. Out of Facebook’s 901 million users, 488 million access the social network via its mobile app - so it is hardly surprising to hear Mike Schroepfer, Facebook's vice president for engineering say "We have basically retooled and focused the company around mobile". It is clearly where the growth is especially in countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Japan with 70 – 80% users accessing via the mobile app. Similarly Youtube now has 20% of its views coming from 350 million mobile platforms.Youtube announced that it would be introducing its skippable advertising format to mobile. This form of advertising, which I am sure we are all familiar with from the experience on our computers means that users will have to click a “skip video” link at the bottom of the video after 5. This is designed to align the needs of users and advertisers as users have the option to skip unwanted ads and advertisers only pay for un-skipped videos. The group product manager Phil Farhi said that “the challenge has been making sure that the controls work on the smaller screens of mobile.” And herein lies the frustration for me as a viewer.
Mobile screens are by their nature small. With the iPhone 4s only having a 3.5 inch diagonal screen and numerous other smart phones with even smaller screen sizes, uncomplicated, non-fiddly functionality has been the key to successful mobile apps. Cluttering the screen with adverts and having tiny “Skip video” icons will lead to more accidental clicks and more user irritation, ultimately driving users away.
With the announcement that YouTube will no longer come pre-installed on iOS 6 it is likely that a YouTube app that’s made entirely by Google, and that users have to install, is probably paving the way for a bigger push in mobile advertising. For me, It will be interesting to see how this affects user numbers – particularly on Facebook and Youtube. Personally, advertising on social networks is tricky ground and companies will need to tread carefully to ensure that they do not impinge too heavily on the user experience, which is what I believe, most successful internet companies owe their success to.
What are your thoughts on the rise of mobile advertising and its impact on customer experience? Are you happy to put up with adverts to take advantage of these networks? Do you have a view on an alternative?