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Facebook bids to rid industry of 'historic' summer ad buying trends

Facebook is ramping up its education drive about mobile advertising on the site as it looks to shift the traditionally slow ad buying behaviour in the summer months and extract more revenue in this usually quiet time.

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The social network today (18 July) revealed its UK mobile users in June rose 22 per cent year on year to about 18 to 21 million and has embarked on an education drive amongst media agencies and marketers as it looks to boost the attractiveness of its mobile advertising offer during the hot weather when consumers are out of the home.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Facebook regional director for the UK and Southern Europe James Quarles, said the company is hoping to change long-established buying behaviour, which appears to be based on habit rather than insight.

He added: “These summer months are typically a down period for TV and print and it’s relevant to know that at this time Facebook is available to reach a big audience with a marketing message.

“Our entire industry is built around the expectation that August is quiet - how many decades has that been the case? But we think there should be a real shift in planning. Mobile is so personal you take it out of home, to the beach, music festivals…advertisers that win will use that timeliness factor as well as the relevancy of the message and keep their creative similar to their out of home to provide this much stronger call to action.”

The recent hot weather has also seen a number of advertisers come to Facebook to book “TV plus” campaigns as they look to extract as much value out of the viewers that actually are still staying in and watching their pre-booked TV ads, Quarles said.

As well as releasing its mobile numbers today (18 July) ahead of its second quarter results next week, Facebook has been visiting a number of media agencies and clients with a branded ice cream van and other summer-related goodies to discuss the mobile opportunity with the site.

Quarles said his team is also looking to dispel “misinformation” in the market about its user base.

He added: “Our user base is out there, engaged and growing. We really want to show the power of Facebook and raise some awareness about the opportunity in a different way.

“I have one client that says ‘that’s our mobile strategy’ as if it’s separate from the rest of their marketing strategy. Facebook is just the same, the contextual format of the feed doesn’t change, it’s easy to book and flexible to change, we have an audience of 18 to 21 million Britons each day on Facebook mobile. Those are big planning numbers.

“The whole industry is built around history but I think the world has changed.”

Facebook will continue its education drive amongst marketers and agencies during the festive period, sharing insight about the “very unique way users really make decisions about visiting family, when to travel and shopping”.

When Facebook first went public last year, its shares slumped after weaknesses were exposed in the company’s mobile strategy. It soon introduced its first mobile advertising formats and now nearly a third (£820m) of its total revenue is derived from mobile, according to its latest quarterly results.

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