Facebook IPO: Analysts Urge Facebook To Satisfy Advertisers More Amidst Initial Public Offering

  @CareyDrew2 on May 15 2012 12:33 PM

As Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) prepares to make its IPO debut on Friday, Mark Zuckerberg and company upped the ante just days before, announcing that it would increase the number of shares in its initial public offering.

With Facebook planning to sell an extra 50 million shares, the price-per-share for the IPO could now be as high as $38 each, up from the prior range of $28 to $35, totaling out to 337.4 million shares.

In light of the latest news, insiders and investors are eagerly waiting to see if the world's number one social network is going to live up to its enormous valuation of approximately $104 billion.

Since the Facebook IPO announcement in Feburary, analysts have been researching the company from almost every angle, trying to gauge how well the Menlo Park, Calif.-based phenomenon will do once it goes public.

One company has released new research comparing the value of Facebook advertising to Google's Display Network -- the portion of Google's advertising business that allows advertisers to place display ads on Google sites such as YouTube, Gmail, and Blogger and more than 2 million other websites, including popular news sites, blogs and other niche sites across the Internet, rather than alongside search results.

While it is known that Facebook has bounced back and forth among several advertising techniques, some analysts say it may need to get better acclimated to the common business practice.

As good as Facebook has been at evolving to serve consumers, that's how bad it's been at serving marketers, Forrester's interactive marketing analysts Nate Elliott and Melissa Parrish wrote, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the past five years Facebook has lurched from one advertising model to another.

According one analyst, what Facebook needs to do is to satisfy two markets at one time -- the users and advertisers. Donna Hoffman, a marketing professor at UC Riverside, told the LA Times that Facebook is a marketing tool. That's what this IPO is all about.

Home to almost 900 million users, Facebook has yet to execute a solid advertising scheme, with its current approach -- ads on the side-rail -- resembling a Google ad word, Hoffman suggested.

The difference, however, is that with Google, users are actively looking for something.

What Facebook users are searching for is appeasing their fundamental need to connect with one another, not with products, the marketing professor said.

The original research, compiled by WorldStream Inc., evaluates Facebook's display advertising business versus the Google Display Network by comparing advertising reach, ad performance, revenues and growth, ad formats and targeting options.

The Boston-based company concluded that with Facebook boasting 845 million monthly active users and Google owning the world's largest online display advertising network, it's safe to say that they both passed the Potential Reach test.

But the two mega-companies are definitely not equals: The Google Display Network offers twice as many ad formats as Facebook, such as video ads, support for industry-standard image ads and more.

Facebook also does not yet support mobile advertising and has more limited targeting options compared to Google, according to WorldStream.

The company's findings also reveal that the average click-through rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is under 0.05 percent - about half the average CTR for banner ads across the Internet, whereas the average CTR on the Google Display Network is a bit under one-half percent, almost 10 times that of a Facebook ad, and can be up to 36 times higher, depending on the targeting options used.

WorldStream's comparison suggests that Google currently offers advertisers more value in terms of both options and results, and Facebook has a lot of catching up to do to provide advertisers with the best possible solutions.

So far, Facebook's advertising platform hasn't kept pace with the explosive growth of its social network, and it remains to be seen if CEO Mark Zuckerberg even wants to focus on advertising as a source of revenue. In his 2,500 word letter to shareholders this month, he mentioned advertising just once, Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream, said in a statement.

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