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Facebook aiming ads at non-users to serve interest-based mobile ads


Facebook will now display ads to web users who are not members of its social network, the company announced Thursday, in a bid to significantly expand its online ad network. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook will use cookies, "like" buttons, and other plug-ins embedded on third-party sites to track members and non-members alike. The company says it will be able to better target non-Facebook users and serve relevant ads to them, though its practices have come under criticism from regulators in Europe over privacy concerns. Facebook began displaying a banner notification at the top of its News Feed for users in Europe today, alerting them to its use of cookies as mandated under an EU directive.

Facebook Audience Network (FAN) allows marketers to serve targeted Facebook-style ads on apps and mobile websites of publishers partnered with the product.

It is the second-largest mobile ad network behind Google, but the largest for native advertising - Facebook claims 80% of FAN impressions are native. In the app space, Facebook says 6% of all time spent on mobile apps are on Audience Network partners.

In January, Facebook announced a $1 billion annual revenue run rate for Q4 2015, whereas Google Network revenue was $4.14 billion.

One of the strengths of FAN is that it can draw on the granular data of 1.6 billion Facebook users and the move to broaden beyond this group will need to be managed carefully to ensure the quality of data and targeting is not impaired.

In a blog, Facebook VP of ads and business platform Andrew Bosworth said: "One of the things we’ve heard from people is that many of the ads they see are annoying, distracting or misleading. We think companies can do better, and that’s why we’ve been focused on improving ads both on and off Facebook."