Facebook is officially opening up its “Audience Network” for business.
Audience Network is the mobile advertising platform Facebook unveiled in April that allows brands to extend their Facebook ad campaigns across a network of other mobile apps using the social network’s targeting data.
The official launch of the Facebook Audience Network comes just a week after Facebook rolled out its Atlas ad server, which allows advertisers to target ads at people across different devices platforms and publishers using Facebook’s targeting data.
Facebook now offers targeted advertising across the mobile and desktop web, and in apps, and that puts the social network in direct competition for ad dollars with Google, which has had a years long head start in both media. Facebook is hoping its Facebook-login-driven targeting mechanisms will be more attractive to advertisers than Google’s cookie- and Gmail-login environment. More than 85% of the top 100 Android and iOS apps have Facebook integrations, the company told Business Insider.
Initially, Audience Network service was only available to app publishers, allowing them to extend their Facebook “app install ad” campaigns. Now Facebook is introducing link ads, meaning any advertiser can tap into the network — which includes apps such as Shazam, Myfitnesspall and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood — to drive traffic to their mobile websites.
Facebook claims brands are seeing good results with their Audience Network campaigns, compared to ads placed on just Facebook alone. Walgreens increased its reach by 5% and click-through rates were up 4 to 5X with when it trialled using the Network.
The Audience Network is in direct competition with services such as Google’s AdMob and Yahoo’s Flurry as well as other smaller ad networks that sell the ad inventory in publisher’s apps on their behalf.
Facebook hopes app publishers and advertisers will see Audience Network as superior to other networks as it already has a list of 1.5 million active advertisers on its books and has a wealth of data about a user’s likes, dislikes, location and so on from their social networking habits.
The main difference between Audience Network and the Atlas server is that using Atlas “is not predicated on having a Facebook campaign,” while the Facebook Audience Network only currently allows marketers to extend their existing Facebook ads to other apps.
Last year Google took a 46.4% share of worldwide mobile ad spend, while Facebook had a 16.5% share, according to eMarketer. Facebook is hoping its recent efforts to expand the mobile inventory it offers beyond its own apps will help close that gap.