Facebook to advertisers: Speed up your mobile site or risk losing clicks

The social media network is tinkering with the way it chooses ads to display to users, giving preference to advertisers with mobile-optimized websites.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

As Facebook tinkers with its methods of determining which ads to show its users, it will be giving more weight to advertisers with websites optimized for mobile.

"Over the coming months, we're working to improve ad experiences for people by considering website performance and a person's network connection in our ad auction and delivery system," the company said in a blog post. "In this way, we can better match ads to the moments when people can best engage with content."

Citing research from the Aberdeen Group, Facebook noted that as many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay. In addition to site abandonment, Facebook said that websites that poor mobile performance can lead to "missed business objectives and inaccurate measurement."

In addition to giving preference to advertisers with optimized sites, Facebook now said it's using "prefetching" speed things up for users. For each News Feed mobile ad, the company attempts to predict how likely a person is to click on it. If they are likely to, Facebook will prefetch the initial HTML page, briefly cache it locally, and then load it if the ad is clicked on. The initial page then prompts the publisher's server to load the rest. Facebook said that prefecthing can shorten a mobile load site time by 29 percent.

It's no secret why Facebook wants its users to have a smooth mobile ad experience. The company makes the bulk of its revenues through advertising, and mobile advertising revenue accounts for about 84 percent of that. Meanwhile, Facebook's mobile user base is growing fast: The company had 1.03 billion daily active mobile users in June, a 22 percent year-over-year increase.

As people spend more time on mobile, other companies are also pushing advertisers and content producers to optimize their material. Google has nudged along speedier mobile content with its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project.

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