Facebook pressures advertisers to cut mobile page load speeds or it’ll cut their reach

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Facebook has sent out a warning to advertisers: cut down the time it takes to load your web pages or we’ll cut the reach of your ads.

Facebook plans to start considering how long it takes a link brands include in their ads to load when it decides whether to show that ad to someone, the company announced on Wednesday.

The move is the company’s latest effort to make Facebook a less frustrating place for people to peruse while on a phone, as were the introductions of Instant Articles and Canvas formats. And it could have the perhaps-not-unintentional effect of pushing brands — as it’s pushed publishers — to make more content that’s native to Facebook and coincidentally quicker to load, like Instant Articles and Canvas posts/ads.

Don’t get me wrong. Facebook’s consideration of mobile page-load speeds is commendable. As the growing popularity of ad blockers shows, people are sick of waiting too long for web pages to load. And it’s a shrewd business decision. Facebook doesn’t want people to be so discouraged by slow-loading links that they stop clicking on links in ads altogether (and stop making Facebook money).

That’s why Facebook also announced on Wednesday that it would start pre-loading pages that a mobile ad links to when it predicts someone is likely to click on the ad. That way, if and when someone clicks on it, the page will appear almost instantly. However images and interactive elements won’t begin to load until after the page appears, which is similar to how Facebook loads Instant Articles. Facebook claimed this process, which it calls “pre-fetching,” can make the average mobile site load 29% faster. That’s fast but not quite as fast as if that pre-fetched landing page were instead a Facebook-native Canvas ad, which Facebook said can load up to 10 times faster than the average mobile site.




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