Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg predicted at a conference in… (Kimihiro Hoshino / AFP /…)
Is Facebook on the verge of creating its own advertising network?
The social networking company gave another hint that it might be a step closer Tuesday when it revealed it’s testing Facebook ads to target users on mobile apps.
Analysts and investors are counting on Facebook expanding beyond its website to syndicating ads across the Web and on mobile apps, basically rolling out its own version of Google’s AdSense, a cash cow for the Internet giant.
Facebook says its test is small and won't say if it's a precursor to an ad network. The same chatter bubbled up in June when Facebook began showing Facebook ads on Zynga.com.
This time it’s working with a small number of ad exchanges to show ads on iOS and Android. The ads will point to an app store or a mobile website.
Facebook won’t say which or how many advertisers and publishers are participating in the test, which is fueled by personal data users share with Facebook, such as their age, gender and interests.
Facebook is gingerly pushing its ad business beyond its own website and, increasingly, into mobile. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said at a technology conference last week that the ad business on mobile will eclipse Facebook’s ad business on the desktop.
Facebook will earn nearly $73 million in the U.S. this year from mobile advertising, according to research firm EMarketer. By next year, EMarketer expects the social networking giant to take in $387 million from mobile ads in the U.S. Google dominates the U.S. mobile ad market.
"We think that showing mobile ads outside of Facebook is another great way for people to see relevant ads and discover new apps," Facebook spokeswoman Annie Ta said in an emailed statement.
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