Facebook Is Shutting Down Its Desktop-Based Ad Retargeting Exchange

Social platform redirecting advertisers to mobile

Facebook is shutting down Facebook Exchange and moving advertisers to newer products in a coordinated effort to focus more heavily on the social network's mobile-first advertising products.

Per Facebook's vp of monetization Matt Idema, consumer usage has primarily moved to mobile. He said Facebook Exchange is primarily a desktop retargeting tool, adding that newer product such as Dynamic Ads for Carousel, video campaigns and custom audiences have mobile retargeting features not supported by Exchange.

Idema told Adweek that the company has already begun moving clients and ad tech partners over to newer products with the goal of being fully migrated by Nov. 1. Idema said advertisers started moving their budgets over to newer products even before the "sunset" of Facebook Exchange was announced, largely due to the results they've seen. According to the company's most recent earning's report, mobile now accounts for 82 percent of the company's overall revenue.

"This migration really won't be a challenge for them," he said. "They're already using the mobile products like Dynamic Ads."

When it launched in 2012, Facebook Exchange started strongly, signing on more than a dozen ad tech companies to help it retarget Facebook users based on their website viewing habits. Buyers were bullish and results were strong—some marketers saw a nearly 50 percent decrease in the cost per click, nearly 200 percent increase in their return on investment and total click-through rates 17 times higher than before.

But even just a year later, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg admitted on an earnings call that Facebook Exchange was a "very small" part of the company's overall business.

"As people have moved to mobile and spend more of their time using Facebook and Instagram and the Audience Network on mobile versus on desktop, that's really been the arc of the potential impact of desktop retargeting in general," Idema said. "As mobile has become a larger part of our business, desktop has become a smaller and smaller part of our business."