Sheryl Sandberg said FAN is in 'early testing stages' while the company announced its Q1 figures earlier in April, suggesting that the launch will "provide greater reach for marketers and developers who are working with Facebook, but also improve the relevance of ads people see both on and off Facebook".
Facebook will not be the first social media platform to do this: Twitter has acquired MoPub and announced that it will promote ads to those on Twitter, as well as those not on the platform.
We caught up with several experts to see what they thought the launch of the FAN would mean.
Jon Hook, head of mobile, MediaCom Beyond Advertising
We have already seen great success for our clients through our partnership with Celtra, serving rich media creative into consumers’ news feeds and are excited about the much anticipated launch of the Facebook Audience Network at next week’s F8 conferenceWe all know the opportunity that Facebook’s rich data offering brings especially with its advantage when it comes to user identification. Now with its reported extension into 3rd party apps and ability to build custom ad units to match the app they appear within, comes the challenge of using Facebook’s data to truly deliver messaging/content/experiences that users will engage with within an app environment that doesn’t damage the user experience. The value exchange here and expectation from users will be “ok so you have my data – impress me. Give me something interesting that you know I like or will want” . We are not talking about static banners that have littered the DR landscape for a long while now with magic beans. This is a big play from Facebook to get a share of the brand dollars. And for brands that get this right, expect to see increased conversions/engagement. Get this wrong and deliver poor creative out of context, and users will not engage or worse still opt it.Commercially, clearly this is in Facebook’s interest to make FAN and its custom units work, so expect a lot of creative collaboration and innovation in this space.
Sam Bateman, creative strategist, Cake
Finally, we’re seeing Facebook properly branch out of ‘Facebook’, as the company isn’t really just a social network, in the same way Google isn’t just a search engine. In reality it’s a fantastic move for mobile advertising and social. As we’ve seen with traditional Facebook ads, we can really produce some effective results and that’s down to the incredible targeting data that’s available. If Facebook can take the same principal and apply that to mobile outside of its owned applications then it can only mean better connections with brands for consumers. Whether it proves possible to bring in published page content in these FAN ads remains an unanswered question. My hunch is that it’s less about ’social’ and more about the data and the success of mobile app install ad units. I’m looking forward to mobile ads that aren’t telling me I’ve won an iPod for being the 500th visitor.
James Collier, Regional MD EMEA, AdTruth
Facebook Audience Network (FAN) is really the killer solution for Facebook. It allows Zuckerburg to monetise consumers without impacting the design and usability of his own heavily controlled environment. It would also help them to solve some of the problems they have in measuring the value of their users off Facebook.We often expect a lot from Facebook very quickly without really considering what it takes to build products at their scale. It will be a while, but once they link consumers across devices and marry a tier one publisher solution through the development of Atlas, (and overlay Facebook data), they will truly have a means to compete with Google and the Doubleclick stack… In that regard talking about FAN being for app developers is an underplay: in reality this can reach into media owners, brand and commerce environments, to enrich remarketing and retargeting, in addition to the core app developers
Jed Hallam, head of social strategy, Mindshare UK
Facebook Audience Network marks a pivotal moment in Facebook’s development. Its aim is to create the Internet’s largest premium mobile media network, powered by Facebook’s deep consumer data - and likely to use a lot more of its contextual data, such as location and interest-based – and using new ad units to offer marketers hyper-target direct response and brand advertising. Facebook is chasing brand budgets, and you can see it repositioning itself away from performance advertising, where it competes with Google, to put more of a focus on brand-led advertising. A key motivation must also be around gathering more behavioural data on consumers, to provide advertisers with deeper insights and targeting capabilities, and demonstrating the ROI of its offering. However, it has to tread a very thin line balancing out what’s good for users and what sells for advertisers.
Ernie Cormier, CEO, Nexage
At its surface, the Facebook Audience Network appears to be a play to leverage Facebook data through an ad network model, however, the best way deliver on the value of data is at the impression level through programmatic media buying versus an ad network model. But the more transformative dynamic in advertising is the reallocation of budgets to mobile and the use of programmatic buying to drive that spend. This makes sense as it follows the consumer’s shift to mobile and leverages proven trading models in other markets. It has special meaning in advertising as programmatic enables agencies to decision publisher , 3rd party, and their own data at the impression level. And that data – delivered by a vibrant open and independent market – is becoming more rich and diverse as more and more data providers enter mobile and learn to operate without a cookie. The combination of programmatic and data gives agencies powerful tools to win in a market where mobile has become the primary screen.
Zac Pinkham, managing director, EMEA, Millennial Media
The expansion of advertising is natural, given the increased usage of mobile today. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats. The takeaway from this increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace is choice. Advertisers will not consolidate all of their ad spend onto a small number of consumer properties. They want choice and a solid foundation of options that support the needs of specific campaigns!
Jonathan Milne, general manager EMEA Celtra
Beautiful ads combined with a well targeted audience delivers the best results for advertisers. Fact. HTML5 rich media creatives have proven to be highly effective in terms of both engagement and brand effectiveness and advertisers have adopted them at scale as the standard for mobile display advertising.If FAN offers the potential for advertisers to deliver their highly engaging HTML5 creatives to a more targeted audience, the results could well be compelling for advertisers.
Paul Kelly-Mcquaid, performance media director, Performics (ZenithOptimedia)
Launching a new mobile ad network would be a wise move by Facebook, as it’s currently limited by the amount of inventory on its own platform. Opening up to third party app developers presents a great way to grow its inventory and make use of its rich and accurate data. By nature of the platform, and the evolution of the EdgeRank algorithm; advertisers could very soon find themselves jostling for already crowded space. This could mean either a revenue ceiling for Facebook, or worse; more ads in the space, leading to disgruntled users. Given Facebook’s recent developments, dissecting their app into smaller more streamlined, purpose-led apps, such as Paper & Messenger; this would show a shrewd knowledge of the shift in usage across mobile. The expansion of partnerships with app developers to give greater advertising flexibility seems a very natural step, when viewed with this insight. The new mobile ad network would benefit all parties. From the app developer’s point of view they would be able to monetise their offering. Users benefit through more relevant advertising based on interests they have previously specified a preference for. Facebook’s expansive and accurate data set makes it the perfect partner for app developers and mobile inventory holders alike, allowing them to display ads that are far more targeted and engaging.
Milton Elias, head of mobile, OMD UK
The recent excitement around the launch of a Facebook mobile ad network is understandably justified considering how the company has shaken things up in the mobile ad space since launching their first standalone mobile ad product less than two years ago. By expanding reach beyond their own site and mobile apps, they significantly scale up their advertising proposition in a time where mobile internet consumption quickly sets itself up to surpass desktop.We can expect app developers to gradually integrate Facebook’s technology into their apps in order to grant Facebook access to serve ads. However, this will be of great interest to marketers not just for the increased volume of available ad impressions but, more importantly, for Facebook’s unique set of user data that could then be used to identify and target these same audiences externally in an entirely new range of different scenarios and contexts (i.e. during in-app game play, whilst running when using a fitness app, etc.), which could prove very powerful for advertisers.
Nick Reid, UK managing director, TubeMogul
Facebook’s Audience Network (FAN) presents an opportunity for marketers to leverage accurate first-party data and location-based information, creating the potential for hyper-targeted mobile ads. However, the majority of Facebook’s existing mobile offerings centre on banner ads, with little video. Given the plethora of existing mobile banner inventory already out there, publishers who make video a strategic priority and focus on catering to brands with upper-funnel marketing objectives likely stand the best chance to sustain their revenue stream.
Tom Triscari, CEO, YD
We are at the forefront of a mobile advertising arms race between Twitter, Facebook and Google. Google is currently the king with its mobile click-to-call, mobile app extensions and TrueView products. However, Twitter is quickly gaining ground with its acquisition of MoPub and now, Facebook is leveraging its deep well of user data to launch its own mobile ad network. The more competition, the better it is for the industry as it spurs on innovation and forces us to continue to get better. Mobile devices continue to eat up more of our time and therefore will continue to become a prime vehicle for reaching consumers. Mobile is the new norm. Facebook has realized this and has readapted its business model in order to scale, and the Facebook mobile ad network is the culmination of that.