Facebook's Audience Network: What It Means For Mobile Ads

Facebook, the social media giant that has already made a large dent in the mobile ad ecosystem, today showed it has no plans to stop the momentum: Welcome, Audience Network.

Before today, there were already several factors working in Facebook’s favor: its reach among avid social users, its engaged and captive audience, and its trove of affinity data, which my colleague Nate Elliott talks more about in his blog post here.

After its Audience Network announcement today, Facebook is breaking the application of its tools and its data out of its own silo, and this could benefit several players:

  • Other developers and publishers could make more money by offering Facebook data-infused mobile ads.
  • Advertisers can dip into Facebook’s rich affinity data to target their ads across other mobile properties.
  • And of course, Facebook itself just extended its potential revenue base and faces a new competitive set with the likes of Google AdMob and MIllennialMedia.

What could make this Audience Network important in the mobile ad world? It has the potential to execute against the integrated formats and personalized targeting required for mobile ads to succeed. Specifically, it touches on both by:

  • Offering the option for a better ad format experience. While standard ads are still offered here, and we all know customers don’t love (or even like, or even tolerate) them, Facebook announced it will also allow developers and publishers to offer customizable native ad formats to be filled through the network. If developers and publishers go with these native ad formats – they could boost that mobile user’s ad experience and see results. 
  • Providing data for more personalized targeting. We all know this by now: Mobile tracking and targeting is tough today, yet your customers expect a high degree of relevancy and personalization in all of their mobile experiences – including their experience with ads. Facebook was succeeding with its mobile ads in large part because it had that unique login and that rich affinity data that it could use to target ads and boost ad relevancy. Applying this affinity data to more mobile ads now across apps? Big potential.

We see a lot of opportunity here for Facebook in the mobile ad tech space, but the jury is still out as we wait to see this in action. Still to be seen from the ad experience side: How many marketers will take advantage of custom ad formats to reduce disruption? And how customized and tailored can (and will) these ads get? Still to be seen from the data side: How well can this data be integrated with other data sources to create true personalization? Will the results based on this data be worth the cost for marketers? And, will these ads bring in enough results for developers and publishers to give Facebook a piece of the revnue? And then there is the rest of the industry, too. There are many other industry players out there working on native ads, dynamic customization, and enhanced mobile targeting, so the end result here for the mobile ad tech industry is TBD.

What do you think?

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