Although details are scarce, Facebook announced that it’s taken the first steps toward creating a mobile ad network. In a blog post published Wednesday, the company confirmed a small test that will run Facebook Ads in mobile apps from other publishers. This marks the first time the social network is running ads outside of the Facebook experience.
“To improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers and help mobile developers better monetize their apps, we’re running a small test to show Facebook ads in mobile apps,” wrote Facebook engineer Sriram Krishnan. “Our aim is to demonstrate even greater reach with the same power of Facebook targeting for advertisers both on and off Facebook.”
The company has run similar tests in the past. Facebook launched the first test to see how the network would perform in September 2012, but stopped three months later. It picked up testing again in September 2013, but that too appeared to be a limited run. What’s different about the latest test, however, is that it doesn’t use an outside ad-serving platform. Instead, it’s working directly with a small group of advertisers and publishers.
A spokesperson for the social network told TechCrunch that the ads will “use Facebook standard targeting to show more relevant ads — along the lines of interest, Pages you like, etc.” Additionally, the ads won’t be labeled as or look like Facebook Ads. So for the user, an ad someone sees on a third-arty app might have been presented by Facebook, but it will look the same as the ads they’re used to seeing. “It’s more about using FB targeting capabilities to show people more relevant ads in other mobile apps.”
Facebook did emphasize that this is a limited test, meaning there’s a chance that it won’t result in a wider release. That said, the third time could be the charm. The company has seen incredible mobile growth over the past year, and mobile ads in particular are performing very well. It makes sense that Facebook is now once again testing the waters outside its web boundaries.
Advertisers have a lot to gain from Facebook’s deep targeting capabilities and mountains of data about its members. Through precise targeting, Facebook Ads have returned increasing ROI and clickthrough rates in recent months. Although the official numbers won’t be announced until January 29th, a new infographic showed that impressions, clickthrough rate, and sales all went up significantly in Q4 compared to Q3.
While there isn’t any immediate action you can take, unless you’re part of the test, you can still take advantage of Facebook’s mobile ads, which can be targeted to either iOS or Android devices. Mobile App Install Ads specifically have received several new features over the past months, including video and new calls to action. With more than 819 million monthly mobile active users, app developers should seriously consider integrating mobile app install ads into their marketing strategies.
However, mobile advertising on Facebook isn’t limited to just apps. Earlier this month we took a look at the different kinds of ads offered by the social network, many of which are available on mobile as well. If you’re looking to expand your advertising beyond Facebook’s desktop in 2014, we recommend taking a look at this list. Additionally, we’ll be sure to update you as more details become available regarding Facebook’s mobile ad network tests.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.