Facebook: It Conquered Mobile. Is Shopping Next?

May 6, 2016

Digital Marketing Valerie Anders By Valerie Anders

There have been a lot of conversations about the battle between Google and Amazon for product searches, but how does Facebook fit into this picture?

After pondering this recently, I decided to start a product search using Facebook on my phone to see what happened. Facebook hasn’t been known for its search functionality, so honestly I didn’t expect much.

The results were surprising. The mobile experience wasn’t very different than what you would see on Google. Facebook displays a scrolling carousel of products across the top of its page, followed by related articles, and then posts. Both Facebook and Google allow you to scroll through the carousel, and the final card in the carousel takes you to the full shop page.



On Facebook, when you click on the product you’re taken to a product detail page inside Facebook that allows you to select size and color, check additional product info and even check out. If the retailer you’re shopping is using a third-party checkout program, you’re taken directly to that mobile checkout page, which unfortunately is pretty cumbersome. But if you’re lucky enough to find a product that’s in the Checkout on Facebook beta, you’ll have a much different experience.

Checkout on Facebook provides an experience similar to Amazon 1-Click. Once you’ve set up your shipping and payment info, the process essentially becomes a single-click checkout.

FBCheckoutFacebook’s Evolution

Facebook has made a huge push in direct response advertising over the last year. It launched Dynamic Product Ads, Shop Sections, Checkout on Facebook, Canvas Ads, Lead Ads and expanded the functionality of Carousel Ads.

Facebook quickly expanded the functionality of Dynamic Product Ads with deep linking, allowing you to take the consumer directly to a product within your mobile app.

Facebook reported that 82% of its Q1 ad revenue came from mobile devices. If Facebook can manage to get the search and checkout experience down, it can become a destination for consumers looking for products.  

Another point in Facebook’s favor: The company announced last year that Facebook and Instagram together account for over one in five minutes spent on mobile devices in the US.

Admittedly, Facebook still has a lot of work to do before it becomes the go-to shopping destination, but it’s clear that improving search functionality and product discovery has been a focus for the company. Since Facebook is known for its quick development, it will be exciting to see what the improvements will look like for the holiday shopping season.

In the meantime, there are still plenty of things that retailers and branded manufacturers can do today to improve their mobile presence on Facebook. While the Shop section and Checkout on Facebook are both available only on a limited basis, there are other options that are widely accessible today.

What Can You Do?

Here are four quick tips for expanding and optimizing your mobile presence on Facebook:

  1. Take advantage of Dynamic Product Ads. Since users are shown items based on what they did or didn’t interact with on your site, this is a great way to advertise a large volume of products without having to create an ad for each one. Dynamic Product Ads also display and track conversions across devices, so you don’t have to worry about paying for the clicks after someone has made a purchase.
  2. Make sure that the mobile news feed and Audience Network are selected in your ad placements. The Audience Network allows your ad to be shown in mobile apps and on select publisher mobile sites outside Facebook.
  3. Use the Insights in Ad Manager to view the breakdown by placement and device type. This will help you determine which placements and devices are driving your traffic and conversions. If the performance differs enough, it may warrant moving a specific placement or device type to a separate ad set so that you can adjust your bids and budgets accordingly.
  4. Take a step back and evaluate the mobile experience on your site. Does it load quickly? Is it easy to locate items? And most important, how easy is it to check out?

Now is the perfect time to dig in, test, and perfect your mobile and social strategies — so when the holiday season arrives, you’re ready to go.


Blog post by Valerie Anders, product manager, digital marketing, ChannelAdvisor