More Mobile Developers Get Access to Facebook Ad Network

More mobile developers can now take advantage of the tremendous quantities of data Facebook gathers from its users after the Web giant opened up access to its Audience Network for placing targeted advertisements in mobile apps.

In April, Facebook unveiled an extended test of the Audience Network, which it describes as "a new way for advertisers to extend their campaigns beyond Facebook and into other mobile apps."

After testing and performance improvements, the ad network is now open to more developers and marketers, who can reap benefits from the personal information Facebook collects, such as information shared on its site in a user "Like." It also provides user account information such as age, gender, location, device used, along with information it gets from marketing partners, such as e-mail addresses and user activity on other Web sites if they live in the U.S.

Noting what many mobile developers have already discovered -- "it can be challenging to make money from mobile ads in your app" -- Facebook is positioning the network as a way for developers to generate more income. Many developers complain that their apps go unnoticed in the millions of apps available from stores or other sources. If they're fortunate enough to get large numbers of people to use their apps, they can now provide ads that are more likely to get clicked and provide some income.

To use the Audience Network, mobile developers need to install the program's SDK and then place ad units within their apps. "As of today, all app ads and link ads are eligible to appear in the Audience Network," Facebook said in yesterday's announcement. "Our ads interfaces -- the Ads Create tool, Power Editor and the API -- will show you whether your ads are eligible for the Audience Network."

The ad network kicks in when a user opens an app from one of Facebook's developer partners. Code provided by a Facebook SDK transmits a unique identifier from the mobile device to the ad network, which matches the ID to a Facebook account holder and provides ads targeted for that user from one of the site's 1.5 million advertisers.

Ads are delivered in three formats, banner, interstitial (pages that appear before expected content pages are displayed) and native, which match the look and feel of iOS or Android apps.

Facebook said the Audience Network is meant to extend existing advertising campaigns, so developers can't just buy the service on its own. "If you're already running mobile News Feed campaigns, all new campaigns will automatically be opted-in to the Audience Network," the company said. "You don't need to upload new creative. Ads in the Audience Network use the same images and copy as Facebook ads that run in News Feed."

The Audience Network originally targeted developers who wanted to increase app installations or app engagement, but Facebook said it would be opened up to other kinds of campaigns. Now the network also supports "link ads" that advertisers can use to drive traffic to their mobile Web sites.

Facebook said its initial testing showed many businesses reported better ad performance in the Audience Network, compared with other Facebook advertising campaigns.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.