Facebook Expands Audience Network To Include Mobile Websites

January 27, 2016 0 Comments

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Facebook has announced that it is expanding its Audience Network to include mobile websites.

Audience Network was built to allow advertisers to place their ads in apps that aren’t Facebook. With the latest expansion, brands can now extend their ad campaigns across a network of mobile websites as well as other mobile apps using the social network’s targeting data. Additionally, this means publishers with mobile sites can now make money through these ads.

Brian Boland, Facebook’s VP of ad technology, explains publishers and the 2.5 million advertisers that are already using Audience Network have been steadily requesting this expansion. Facebook says that although people spend the majority of their time on smartphones within apps, digital media consumption through mobile Web browsers is also growing, with a 53 percent increase from 2013 to 2015.

There are some analysts who are calling Facebook’s network expansion to the mobile Web a potential Google AdSense killer. Where AdSense dominated desktop network advertising, Facebook is aiming to be the network of choice for mobile. Considering the ability for advertisers to leverage Facebook audience data against their ad buys in addition to native ad units, as opposed to the text and banner ads that are available via AdSense, the social network’s offering certainly poses a threat to Google. Audience Network also supports native video, as well as banner and interstitial formats.

“As we started working with publishers in mobile apps, we heard loud and clear from them that their mobile Web properties are super important,” said Boland. “Mobile Web was a huge ask for publishers because it’s hard for them to monetize their supply and to deliver relevant ads there.”

In a June 2015 study, comScore found that 93 percent of visits to 25 news publishers came through mobile Web browsers, in comparison to 7 percent of visits from apps. The mobile Web accounted for 55 percent of time spent.

Facebook says that multiple publishers have already tested its mobile Web ad services, including Hearst, Slate, Answers.com, Elite Daily, Diply, Cracked, Vuclip, La Place Media, USA Today Sports Media Group and Time Inc.

The social network keeps a piece of the ad revenue that it generates through the Audience Network, with the remainder going to publishers. However, Facebook hasn’t disclosed the details of the split arrangements.

The mobile Web ads can be targeted to groups of users in the same way as ads placed in apps on the Audience Network, or on Facebook itself. The social media giant refers to its targeting capabilities as “people-based marketing” due to its ability to connect users’ online behaviors back to their Facebook accounts.

Boland expects that the addition of mobile Web support will help to grow its Audience Network further, but of course, that depends on whether or not publishers and businesses choose to participate. There are some publishers who have expressed concerns about having Facebook helping to sell their ad space, especially since they already rely on the company to drive significant amounts of their mobile traffic.

This is certainly a big announcement for Facebook with the potential to greatly expand its ad business and increase its competition with Google and other ad networks. Dealerships should test this technology to see if it works in their markets.

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