Some application developers who use unapproved advertising networks including AdSense are now saying that Facebook has begun contacting them, asking them to stop using ad networks that have not signed its Platform Terms for Advertising Providers. Facebook’s deadline to only use ad providers on its whitelist was February 28th, but this is the first major case of enforcement.
Ad networks aren’t heavily used by Facebook developers because there are more effective Facebook-tailored options. Still, those who do are concerned because they haven’t found approved ad networks which meet their standards. However, Facebook has given them plenty of notice, first announcing the ad network whitelist and indicating that developers would have to use them three months ago.
A post to the “Facebook Developers” Group explained that Facebook had contacted a developer who happened to be using AdSense with the request, and he was now seeking suggestions of which ad network to switch to. Facebook recently added 28 more ad providers to the whitelist, bringing the total count from which developers can choose to 72.
The fact that Google has not signed the terms yet is a part of its continuing impasse with Facebook, which last flared up when Facebook refused Google’s request to allow users to export the email addresses of their friends the same way they can export their Gmail contacts. That issue didn’t result in any functionality change for Google, and users only had to endure a slightly longer Gmail contact export flow.
Asking developers to switch away from unapproved ad networks including AdSense directly impacts developer business, though. Some might see the policy enforcement as the precursor to further restriction in the future, and could cite it as a reason why not to build on the Facebook Platform.
However, the enforcement shouldn’t have been a surprise to developers as it posted to Developer Blog about it several times over the past few month. Facebook’s terms are there to protect user privacy and keep their data from being used elsewhere — and purposefully or not also preclude other companies, like Google, from using their own technology and reach to make more money off targeting ads themselves. We don’t expect Google to sign on any time soon.
Update: To clarify, Google AdSense was not singled out, rather one developer who was contacted by Facebook happened to have been using AdSense. Facebook gave Google two months to sign its terms before enforcement began, and didn’t begin this enforcement until almost another month after the deadline. Facebook has posted to the Developer Blog to inform people about the policy and the enforcement, so the request to switch should be been expected.