The much-rumored Facebook ad network is taking another step closer to reality. The social network has confirmed that it is testing a mobile ad network that utilizes Facebook’s data to target ads to users when they use mobile apps or visit certain mobile web sites.
The mobile ad network test builds upon what Facebook has been doing with partner Zynga on its web site and it allows Facebook to monetize a key asset — its data — without compromising the user experience on the social network site itself.
“We are working on a small test in which we’ll be showing mobile ads in apps off of Facebook,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “We’ve been showing web ads off of Facebook on Zynga.com for a few months now and we think that showing mobile ads outside of Facebook is another great way for people to see relevant ads and discover new apps.”
Facebook is working with a small number of undisclosed ad exchanges to serve ads on iOS and Android. Rather than being in standard Facebook formats, the creatives will be standard mobile ads that will lead to either an app store or a mobile web site. The ads may look something like the App Install ads for mobile that Facebook announced last month.
According to a report in TechCrunch, advertisers will be able to use most of the parameters (age, gender, location, social relationship data, etc.) that they currently can use to target ads on Facebook itself. Due to the privacy scrutiny the social network receives, it will have to be very careful about safeguarding the data is provides for targeting.
Facebook-watchers have long been expecting the company to make a similar move, though such an ad network expected to encompass more than just mobile ads. The company has already forged relationships with many partners to offer its inventory on exchanges for real-time bidding. Providing its data for targeting ads elsewhere would be an unsurprising next step.