Facebook Begins Testing Mobile Ad Network

By David Cohen 

Facebook Tuesday began testing what may end up being the solution to its mobile advertising woes: The social network’s new mobile ad network is an experiment in which advertisers can target mobile users of the social network with ads for applications or websites based on their Facebook data generated from their visits to other apps or mobile sites.

TechCrunch was the first to report on the test, and Facebook told the blog its goal is to serve relevant ads to its mobile users at all times, even when they are outside of the social network’s platform.

The social network would not reveal advertisers, ad exchanges, ad networks, or publishers that are involved in the test, but it did explain to TechCrunch how the test would work: Users may start seeing banner and interstitial ads on non-Facebook iOS or Android apps, or mobile sites they have authenticated with Facebook, based on their biographical and social data from the social network, such as age, gender, location, likes, and friends who have used apps.

TechCrunch added that Facebook is acting as an ad-exchange layer on top of traditional mobile ad exchanges, and that advertisers will bid based on what they are willing to pay to reach a certain demographic, while the social network syncs anonymous user IDs with several mobile ad exchanges. When a Facebook user visits an app or site involved in the test, the exchange sends that user’s ID to determine if a bid has been placed to target them. If so, Facebook pays the ad exchange portion of the bid and feeds the ad to the user.

Facebook told TechCrunch:

Right now, we’re testing to see how these ads perform, and whether people find them relevant. They could be an interesting way to discover new mobile apps and see relevant ads off of Facebook. With Facebook, you have really great targeting. They’ll be able to reach people that are more likely to engage with the ads they see.

Readers: Do you think this process will allow Facebook to boost mobile revenue without overloading its mobile properties with ads and detracting from the user experience?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.