Audience Network – A Step in Facebook’s Bid to Dethrone Google in Digital Ad Sales


The recent launch of Facebook’s Audience Network puts the firm in direct competition with a number of established cross-platform ad providers such as Google’s AdMob and Yahoo’s Flurry. Audience Network allows advertisers to buy ad space within Facebook apps using the same targeting and measurement tools available to general Facebook advertisers. The ads come in three standardized formatas: banner, interstitial and native. With Facebook’s focus on being a cross-platform platform, the Audience Network aims to deliver, “relevancy for people, yield for publishers and results for advertisers”.

Facebook Cross-Platform Platform

Facebook’s Concept of a Cross-Platform Platform

Audience Network is only one of the ventures Facebook has launched in its quest to broaden the scope of application for its trove of targeting data. Facebook’s earlier launch of Atlas, which allows for the placement of ads within third-party websites, is in direct competition with Google’s Doubleclick and represents a significant increase in the potential avenues for Facebook ads. Atlas differs from Audience Network insofar as the former does not require an existing Facebook Ad Campaign, and the latter acts only as an extension of an existing Ad Campaign.

Last week Facebook also unleashed the like button on Android and iOS developers, allowing them to customize and integrate the Facebook like button into their websites and apps. This move will only increase the amount of targeting data Facebook has at its disposal, which has become more valuable as Facebook finds more and more applications for its use.

Google has three main avenues for digital ad sales on third-party platforms, they are:

  • AdSense – A publisher network anyone can sign up to, the biggest customer is currently Adwords (Adwords campaigns can be set on ‘Display’ mode which would then be passed to Adsense) Where you make monetize your blog or website
  • Doubleclick – A Google subsidiary which functions as a platform to display advertisement on third-party sites. As such its offerings consist of DFA (Doubleclick for Advertisers) and DFP (Doubleclick for Publishers). Where the big publishers and advertisers go
  • Admob – Mobile ad network which allows app-developers to monetize and promote their apps Mobile developers can sell ad space within apps
us mobile ad revenue share by company emarketer december 2013

The Trend That Falls Short of the Mark

Facebook is creating platforms which mirror Google’s offerings to publishers and advertisers, though with more valuable data. Interestingly Facebook’s first target was not Doubleclick nor Admob, but Adsense. In 2012 there was a lot of hype around the proposed launch of FaceSense which ultimately came to nothing. As such, the latest wave of third-party ad platforms Facebook has launched represent the second attempt to compete with Google directly in this segment, albeit with a noticeable increase in resources, determination and scope.

Challenging Google in this domain will be an uphill struggle for Facebook, whose market share in the digital ad segment currently stands at 7.8% as opposed to Google’s dominant 31%. The positive trend in terms of Facebook’s market share is insufficient to carry the firm to the top. Facebook’s primary concern at the moment should be to pursue Google’s broad base of media partners and get advertisers and app-developers onto the network.

Digital Ad Revenue by Company

Ultimately Facebook and Google have taken different paths on their long-term strategy. Google has released an operating system, Android, and hopes to create a carve out a defensible position in the mobile OS segment. Facebook, on the other hand, has opted to avoid fixing itself to one operating system and plans to take the role of the cross-platform platform, providing its network on all while making bets on none. It is this key difference in future outlook that will determine which company eventually wins out.

Sources not linked in the article:

https://www.facebook.com/business/news/audience-network
http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-audience-network-available-to-all-advertisers-2014-10
http://venturebeat.com/2014/09/29/with-atlas-facebook-makes-an-attempt-to-dig-itself-out-of-no-2-ad-spot/
http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/28/facebook-atlas-relaunch/

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One response to “Audience Network – A Step in Facebook’s Bid to Dethrone Google in Digital Ad Sales”

  1. 356509lr says :

    Marketers will have to look into the ROI gained from each of these platforms and closely judge which ones are the correct ones to reach their intended target market. Facebook certainly competes well in this space with the variety of information they have collected to segment their users, but then again Google controls what people are searching for so they know their desires slightly better. Interesting to see how this plays out.

    All these networks are quite similar in functionality and ad formats are standardized. I wonder if there is a system that would intelligently pick the correct networks to place their advertisements onto based on their target market and other provided information? There may be room for a whole new market on top of these networks to optimize ad spending.

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