On the face of it, Facebook mobile ads seem like a big success. Per Forbes, mobile ads represent two-thirds of the platform’s advertising revenue, and 63% of clicks on Facebook ads were on mobile devices. The problem is that those clicks aren’t leading to conversions, be it a sale, a download or filling out a form; Facebook mobile ads only have a 34% conversion rate.
It wouldn’t be so bad if mobile conversions were simply less common than desktop conversions, but Google’s mobile conversion numbers are much better. Reporting on data from Marin Software’s quarterly Global Online Advertising Index, AdWeek points out that 39% of ads from Google searches are clicked on mobile devices, and Google’s mobile conversion rate is 31%.
Marin also determined that in Q4 of 2014, desktop Facebook ads had a 1.1% conversion rate, and mobile ads had a measly 0.3% conversion rate. Paid search ads, on the other hand, had a 10.1% desktop conversion rate and a 6.6% mobile conversion rate. The chart below from Marin really shows what a huge difference there is between Facebook and paid search.
Facebook: clicks aren’t the point
While it’s not surprising that people searching for a particular product or brand are more likely to end up buying (or downloading or providing information in a form), such a poor conversion rate on desktop and mobile isn’t exactly doing Facebook any favors. Facebook has generally responded to this criticism by saying that advertising with them is more about raising brand awareness than it is about getting clicks. The idea is that by making people aware of a product or service, people will eventually visit a search engine or store or website and make a purchase, and most TV, radio and billboard advertising work on this premise.
While this may be true, until purchase tracking improves, Facebook may find this argument not holding a lot of water1, which is probably why they’re putting so much effort into reporting tools like Atlas.
Image Credit: Bernard Bujold