Facebook Audience Network: Why Advertisers and Mobile Publishers are becoming big FANs

When Facebook launched its Audience Network in October of 2014, advertisers were excited at the prospect of reaching users beyond the Facebook platform while still utilizing the same targeting data. You may have seen these ads while trying to find out what that song is on Shazam or while playing the Kardashian games (settle down, I heard from a “friend”). A year and a half later, the Facebook Audience Network (FAN) has turned into a machine of mobile monetization for Facebook, advertisers, and publishers, reaching a $1 billion run rate in Q4 of 2014.


Alvin Bowles, Facebook Head of Global Publisher Sales and Operations, took the stage at this year’s f8 conference to review why FAN has been so successful and discuss how the development community has been taking advantage of the FAN to create content

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experiences that focus on monetization. He explains that the main difference between FAN and a standard Ad Network, which focuses on destinations, is a focus on people.

By using Facebook’s robust data network of 1.59 billion monthly active users globally, advertisers can take advantage of individual targeting data to ensure that the ads people see are relative to their experience and preferences. Bowles described how the relationship between mobile publishers and Facebook works:

CONTENT: It all starts with designing a pleasant content experience, making sure the advertising feels like it belongs — complimentary, not disruptive

MONETIZATION: By taking advantage of native advertising and placing advertising that is relevant in the right environment, FAN ensures that your target market sees your ad, ultimately helping you build your business

SYNIDCATION OR REINVEST RESOURCES: Using the data and reports from Facebook’s network to inform future marketing and advertising strategy across all capabilities

Content and Monetization are a pretty standard process for most ad networks — Facebook simply claims to do it better. Thanks to its data network, it probably does. Users are obviously more likely to click on something relative to their likes versus dislikes, especially when it feels native to the experience and isn’t annoying or intrusive, like that infuriating 15 second ad you have to get through to watch a 30 second video.

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However, the true value for FAN lies in the last part of this relationship. Most ad networks return reports of metrics that include ECPM, click through rates, view through rates, etc. that are evaluated by cookies. The problem, Bowles said, was that these work only on desktop, not in a mobile environment, citing a Nielsen study estimating that only 50–60% of cookies are accurate. In today’s mobile-favored world, this leaves room for erroneous information and subsequently, erroneous strategy.

Instead, FAN provides reports that are based on individuals and their profiles. This allows advertisers and publishers to better evaluate who they are reaching by correctly identifying who they believe they’re serving versus who they are really serving. This information is incredibly valuable and can not only be used to gauge the success of a specific campaign, but to also inform other marketing and advertising capabilities and efforts for a brand.

For Facebook, Facebook Advertising Network is a creative way to increase its revenue stream from advertising by creating more touch points without cluttering users’ newsfeeds. For brands, it is one of the most effective advertising tools on the market and provides value beyond the campaign.


Facebook Advertising Network allows advertisers and publishers to gain access to Facebook’s booming network of data and leverage its targeting features at a low cost for efficiency and effectiveness across both campaigns and other marketing/advertising vehicles. As Bowles said, “Ads users want to see, from brands they want to care about, elegantly placed in your app.” Most importantly, the information the reporting provides can help brands better formulate future strategy and target market.

When you think about the ability to effectively monetize ads and combine that with Facebook’s plans to offer more formats and platforms, it’s easy to see why advertisers and mobile publishers are big FANs of the Facebook Audience Network, and why more and more are jumping on the bandwagon.


Christopher Chan is a Social Strategist, DigitasLBi Boston