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Facebook’s Secret Mobile Test

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With Facebook’s move to become a “mobile first” company, big changes are looming. The ultimate goal – a Facebook Mobile Ad Network with superior targeting.

They hope to provide more relevant ads to people wherever they go – even outside of the Facebook platform. Their first step was showing ads on Zynga.com game properties.

You may notice something different while goofing off at work playing FarmVille this morning: The first Facebook ads are appearing on Zynga.com’s in-game pages, marking the first time ever that the social giant’s ads have shown up on a Web site outside of its own.

Today Facebook took their next big step. They started testing ads across mobile platforms using a small number of ad exchanges. Now don’t mistake this as an official launch of any kind. It’s being done a small-scale calculated manor

Right now, Facebook is working with a small number of ad exchanges which already have relationships with publishers, who will then sell those Facebook ads to third party apps and Web sites. Those ads are like the ones you see inside of Facebook, only optimized for the mobile Web or for apps which already serve ads.

The social media giant is keeping most of the details out of the media refusing to share the advertisers, ad exchanges, ad networks, or publishers. Tech Crunch had some of the most detailed info on how the test is being operarted:

On the back end, Facebook is acting as an ad exchange layer on top of traditional mobile ad exchanges like Mobclix or Nexage that bid for placements on ad networks like AdMob, iAd, or individual publishers.

Advertisers set a bid they’re willing to pay Facebook to reach a certain demographic of users. Meanwhile, Facebook syncs its anonymous user IDs with several mobile ad exchanges. When a Facebook user visits one the apps or sites where these exchanges have placements, the exchange instantly sends Facebook that user’s ID and asks if there’s a bid set to target them. If so, Facebook pays the ad exchange some portion of the bid, and the ad is shown to the user.

This is obviously a huge move for Facebook and advertisers alike. We get to work with another source of targeted mobile traffic and FB can charge advertisers more for it.  While it’s not open to the public as of right now it’s deffinitely something we’ll be keeping an eye on.

What do you think? Is this a desperate move by FB to increase revenue? Or is it a logical next step in mobile advertising?

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