With new mobile ad network, Facebook threatens Google’s mobile dominance

It’s time to start thinking of Facebook less as a social media marketing platform, and more as a mobile marketing opportunity.

With the launch yesterday of the Facebook Audience Network (FAN), Facebook is getting ready to challenge Google’s current dominance over mobile advertising. Google share of the mobile advertising market is currently almost 50%, with Facebook in second place at 17.5%. However, the social media network is poised to eat into that share in a big way.

Through FAN, Facebook is giving advertisers the chance to reach Facebook mobile users when they use other apps as well. Using Facebook’s audience targeting data, brands can place ads on other apps that are members of Facebook’s ad network. So far, only a few apps have signed up to be publishers, including The Huffington Post, clothing app Vinted, and popular game Cut The Rope. Developers looking to join have to sign up with the network.

Brands that have come on board for the beta phase of testing include Coca-Cola, Target and Audible.

The ads network will be available both on iOS and Android platforms, with a variety of ad formats to choose from, including interstitials, banners and native ads.

So far, Facebook has been marketing the move more as a money making opportunity for app developers and publishers rather than an audience targeting tool for brands (which is what it really is.) It hasn’t disclosed the terms of revenue sharing with the publisher apps either. To buy the ads, marketers will have to go through Facebook’s ad auction, which currently isn’t programmatic.

While Facebook may be poised for mobile ad dominance, the key to its success will be how powerful its targeting data will be for brands. If the information is generic, or easily obtainable through other networks, brands might just stick with the competition. However, so far Facebook’s targeting capabilities have been the best thing about its ads service, and it’s improving everyday. If you can get past the fact that Facebook is now mining and selling your information to an even bigger network of players, this could be a way to give mobile users the highly targeted and relevant ads, and crucially during the right times of the day.

Here’s a video of how Facebook’s Audience Network will work:

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