Facebook Ad Network Takes On Google

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Facebook ads will now target non-users of Facebook on outside websites and apps, directly challenging the supremacy of the Google Display Network. Previously, Facebook only showed ads on third party websites to users that were concurrently logged into Facebook.

Facebook is also taking on the hundreds of other ad networks such as Taboola, Adblade, Chitika that serve up ads on various websites. Facebook thinks it can be the gold standard in advertising ensuring a good experience for the website visitor by avoiding popups, slow loading ads and suspicious advertisers.

Andrew Bosworth, Facebook VP of Ads and Business Platform posted about this in a blog post, "One of the things we’ve heard from people is that many of the ads they see are annoying, distracting, or misleading. We think companies can do better, and that’s why we’ve been focused on improving ads both on and off Facebook."

Bosworth elaborated on how Facebook can stand out and win over publishers wanting to offer their visitors a better experience while still profiting from advertising on their sites:

We’ve all had this experience. You open a news article on your phone’s web browser and the page takes unusually long to load. Once it appears, the article is blocked by an ad. You might see a tiny “x” to hide the ad, but if you tap in the wrong spot, you get redirected to an app store or another website. It can be unclear who’s behind the ad or even if the website you’ve been directed to is safe to visit.

Advertising may be here to stay, but bad advertising like this doesn’t have to. That’s why we’re working to provide a better online advertising experience for everyone: people, publishers, and advertisers.

While more than a hundred companies already serve interest-based advertising on websites and apps today, we offer a better experience because we care about the integrity of Facebook ads.

Ads are reviewed against our standards and to ensure they are as respectful of people’s experience as possible. For example, we don’t permit ads that include sound unless you interact with them and we prohibit deceptive ads and ads for unsafe products and services. We’ve developed technology to determine when someone clicks on an ad on a mobile device by accident, so you don’t get taken to a website or app you didn’t mean to visit.

We also offer everyone controls over the ads they see, including tools to opt out of online interest-based advertising. If you have an account, you can do this directly from your Facebook settings, and we honor your choice wherever you use Facebook.

Facebook plans to offer advertisers the same types of targeting of non-Facebook users as it currently does to Facebook users by utilizing data from cookies that follow web surfers wherever they go on the Web. Bosworth told the Wall Street Journal, "“Our buttons and plugins send over basic information about users’ browsing sessions. For non-Facebook members, previously we didn’t use it. Now we’ll use it to better understand how to target those people."

Facebook will take in data about sites a user visits and associate that with a likely target. For instance, someone who visits photography tip sites could be viewed as interested in photography and photographic equipment and supplies. This is currently commonplace with Google and other ad Networks. That's why when you visit a site that sells sunglasses, you often then see various sunglass ads on other sites too.

Bosworth believes that because Facebook already has tons of data on a huge swath of the world's population they are better positioned to pull all of the behavioral data points together and serve highly targeted ads, even to non-users. Bosworth told WSJ, “Because we have a core audience of over a billion people [on Facebook] who we do understand, we have a greater opportunity than other companies using the same type of mechanism."

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