One of the key factors to come out of Facebook's risk analysis pre-IPO is the social network's inability to advertise on mobile devices. This may change in March before its initial public offering.
People using mobile devices to access their Facebook accounts may notice some changes from March 2012. According to a news report in The New York Times, Facebook will start to run mobile advertising before its IPO.
The company admitted in its risk analysis that it has not yet harnessed online advertising for this segment of its user base in a significant way. At the moment, more than half of its 845 million members use mobile devices to access their accounts and the company is already in talks with advertising agencies to try and monetize this revenue stream.
Mobile device usage is on the rise. According to a report by the research company Canalys, 488 million smartphones were shipped in 2011 compared to 415 million client PCs. This is the first time that smartphones have beaten PC shipments.
It is not yet fully clear how this advertising strategy will work, although industry experts believe that the first step will include adding sponsored feature stories into mobile news feeds. According to a report in The Financial Times, the site has been testing this kind of brand placement since December last year.
So, for example, a company could buy and show advertising based on the social metrics of users and their circles. Your friends' likes, endorsements and activity with businesses on the site could dictate the advertisements you see in your feed.
No one company has really made mobile advertising work as yet. The screen size of the average smartphone remains an issue in advertising "real estate" terms. Plus, Facebook users with privacy concerns may not all share Mark Zuckerberg's vision that a "more open world will also encourage businesses to engage with their customers directly and authentically."