Facebook tries a mobile ad network

For years the digital media industry has predicted Facebook would eventually launch an ad network. Now, Facebook is making those predictions come true.

The company said today it will begin selling ads in third-party mobile apps to select advertisers. Facebook will target those ads using detailed information it has about millions of Web users.

A spokesperson for the social network told Digiday that the program will not port Facebook-style ad units to other apps, however. Instead, it will simply use its data to target whatever formats those app publishers currently sell.

“These will look like the ads already appearing in the apps we’re working with. For this test, they won’t be labeled as Facebook ads,” the spokesperson said.

In 2012 Facebook ran a similar test, in which it purchased mobile media from ad exchanges on behalf of advertisers. This time it’s working directly with publishers and markers, however, in a more traditional ad network model. Facebook itself will be the only middleman.

“We are working directly with a small number of advertisers and publishers rather than an outside ad-serving platform,” a Facebook blog post said.

Facebook already operates its own ad exchange, of course, through which marketers can buy ads on the site targeted on their own data. But these mobile tests are some of the first attempts by Facebook to take its proprietary data and make it useful for marketers buying ads elsewhere on the Web.


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