More Time is Spent on Facebook Mobile than Facebook Website
Whilst the Facebook IPO remains heavily oversubscribed, an enduring challenge for the company will be to monetize their mobile traffic. At the moment the mobile version of Facebook only carries limited advertising.
So news this weekend that Americans are spending more time on Facebook Mobile than they are on the main website should be the wake up call they need.
Facebook users who access the site via both mobile and computer seem to heavily favor access on the move. A total of 441 minutes per month is spent using Facebook via a mobile phone, compared to just 391 minutes per month accessing the classic full website. These figures come from a recent report from comScore.
The figures will be of major concern for Facebook. Whilst the full version of the website typically has between 4 and 7 adverts per page, the mobile version has just a couple per day. So the mobile version brings in very little money compared to the main website.
The challenge for Facebook will be how to monetize the mobile interface as with smaller screens there is significantly less real estate within which to place adverts without ruining the user experience.
There have been suggestions that Facebook will be entering the search engine market as a means of diversifying its revenue, but with Google dominating that industry such a move would represent a long-term project.
Cracking the mobile problem remains a more pressing concern however. With phones becoming more powerful it seems inevitable that users will access Facebook more and more from their mobile device. Currently 78 million Americans access Facebook mobile, spending on average 7.3 hours a month there.
This compares to 160 million Americans accessing the Facebook website, spending just 6.5 hours a month on the site.
Facebook has already tried monetizing mobile with Sponsored Stories, ie news feed items that companies have paid to place in your news feed. Whilst these are less intrusive than banner ads, there is nevertheless a fine line between seeing one of these now and then and them becoming a nuisance.
With shareholders to please, the challenge is on for Facebook to get it right sooner rather than later.