Facebook puts an end to tests for mobile ad network

Social network commits to focusing on mobile news feed ads instead

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 19, 2012
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This year, Facebook has been working overtime to make money off of advertising, through a series of tests that included running ads on Zynga, putting ads into mobile news feeds and testing out a mobile ad network. Obviously some of these tests were bound to be successful, and others, well, not so much.

One that seems to have failed, at least for now, is the mobile ad network. Beta tests for the network will be shut down at the end of the month. Instead, Facebook will be placing priority on improving its own infrastructure, as well as the ads on its own network, specifically those that appear in mobile news feeds.

“We are pausing our mobile ads test off of Facebook. While the results we have seen and the feedback from partners has been positive, our focus is on scaling ads in mobile news feed before ads off of Facebook. We have learned a lot from this test that will be useful in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson told VatorNews.

The mobile ad network first began testing in September. The network would have used data Facebook had collected on its users to advertise on third-party apps and websites.

The way it was meant to work was that if someone used Facebook to authenticate a website, that person would begin to see targeted ads for other websites or apps. Authentication gives the app the ability to know the identity of a Facebook user, and to read and write data via Facebook's APIs. The app will then use the Facebook data it has access to, including their sex, age, location and Likes, to target advertisements.

It would basically have worked like this: if you used Facebook to log onto a mobile website, let's say or, then the user would begin to see ads similar to Facebook’s mobile news feec ads, introduced back in August. 

Facebook ads are made to look like suggestions, or recommendations, for what a user may like. For example, the ad may come under the header "try these games." Once a user clicks on one of the ads, or suggested apps, they will be redirected to either the iOS App Store or to Google Play to purchase that app.

It’s easy to see why Facebook would want to focus more on its mobile news feed ads, which have been a big success. Mark Zuckerberg has said that they are more effective than desktop ads, and they are so profitable that eMarketer revised its mobile ad spending projections for the year Monday, based simply on the results of those advertisements. 

It is entirely possible that Facebook could revive the ad network idea again down the road, once it has a stronger infrastructure in place. Plus, it’s not like the social network has stopped looking for other ways to make money off advertising: it was reported Tuesday that the social network was planning to debut autoplay video ads in news feeds on both desktop and mobile. It was also speculated earlier this month that it was going to start running ads on Instagram.

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