Facebook Audience Network — the social network’s mobile ad platform that allows brands to extend their Facebook marketing campaigns into other, non-Facebook apps like Shazam and the Kim Kardashian games — has been running a little over a year.
Having had 12 months or so to look back over what works and what doesn’t, Facebook announced on Wednesday new “native advertising” functionality within the Facebook Audience Network, which it hopes will help publishers and developers, and ultimately Facebook itself, cream more revenue from the platform.
Native ads are ads that reflect the style of a publisher or app developer’s other content. Facebook’s own news feed ads on the Facebook platform are native, as are ads on Twitter: They appear in the news feed and elsewhere within their apps and sites just like any other content. Media pundits tend to criticise native ads for deliberately trying to deceive users into thinking paid-for placements are organic content, but survey results suggest consumers are pretty comfortable with them so long as they are relevant and from trustworthy brands.
Native advertising is one of the hottest properties for marketers online right now, and they attract significant spend. BI Intelligence forecasts revenue in the US from native ads on both desktop and mobile will reach $US21 billion by 2108, up from an estimated $US10.7 billion this year.
Facebook wants to take up a bulk of that spending. In a post on the Facebook Developers blog published on Wednesday, the social network said native ads work better than standard banners. It claims that publishers on the Facebook Audience Network are seeing 7X higher CPMs (cost-per-mille/or the cost for an advertiser to reach 1,000 people with their ad) with native ads versus standard banners.
To help optimise those native ads even further, Facebook is introducing three new tools for publishers and developers.
- Native ad templates: These will help publishers define characteristics such as font, the height of an ad, background colour, and other properties to make their Facebook Audience Network ad formats look more in line with the rest of the experience on the app.
- Native ad management tools: These tools will automatically optimise which ads appear on a publisher’s app depending on performance.
- Horizontal scroll: This tool looks a bit like a carousel, allowing users to swipe across to view more ads. Publishers will like this because it means they can maximise the amount of ads in their app, without flooding the entire display with lots of separate ads.
Here’s what those native ad formats look like within an app:
And here’s that “horizontal scroll” ad format
Before today, publishers could still plug into the Facebook Audience Network to create the components of a native ad themselves to fit their app. Now there are some free, off-the-shelf formats available, which should take a lot of the hassle out of implementing native ads within their apps.
And as before, advertisers on the Audience Network can still choose to buy banner ads or interstitials (ads that appear in-between swiping between different sections of an app, or within an article, for example) if they wish.
Facebook’s Audience Network is in direct competition with platforms such as Google’s AdMob, Yahoo’s Flurry, and other mobile ad networks like Millennial Media.Last year Google took a 46.8% share of worldwide mobile ad spend, while Facebook (the next largest in terms of share) had a 21/7% share, according to eMarketer.
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