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A Timeline of Recent Facebook Ad Changes

  |  July 24, 2012   |  Comments

A summary of the news announcements from Facebook this year as the company has come out with a series of new advertising opportunities as it works to capture more revenue.

According to Facebook's February 1, 2012 regulatory filing, Facebook generated $3.15 billion in ad revenue in 2011. If you care to read this filing, search for the phrase "advertising revenue" and you'll get a sense of how dependent Facebook intends to be on this revenue in order to succeed. An April 2012 MediaPost article cited Pivotal Research Analyst Brian Wieser as predicting Facebook's 2012 ad revenue would grow "32 percent this year to $4.2 billion and hit $12.6 billion by 2017." So in May, when General Motors pulled its $10 million Facebook ad campaign right before Facebook's IPO, it rocked the ad industry probably as much as it rocked Facebook. But a new Q2 2012 report from TBG Digital, a leading Facebook advertising buyer, shows Facebook ad costs continuing to rise, a sign that demand continues to be strong.

In 2012, Facebook has come out with a series of new advertising opportunities as it works to capture more revenue...and more big brand ad revenue at that. To summarize these news announcements for media planners, I've created this timeline:

February 29, 2012: Facebook begins selling large-format "log-out" ads.

May 23, 2012: Facebook debuts a self-service platform for advertisers to purchase its new, upgraded premium ads.

June 5, 2012: Facebook opens up its mobile-only sponsored-story ad placements "to the masses" so that all advertisers - not just big brands buying premium ad packages - can purchase mobile Sponsored Stories.

June 13, 2012: Mashable writes that Facebook will launch "Facebook Exchange," a real-time ad exchange offering targeting based on a user's browser data.

June 19, 2012: Facebook storefront-enablement company Payvment begins offering a Facebook ad-buying service integrating "unique transaction-based data" to allow advertisers to target buyers based on a "taste graph."

June 22, 2012: Facebook advertisers' ads appear on Zynga.com's website - is this a sign of Google Display Network-like syndication to come?

July 6, 2012: The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook will be launching mobile ad targeting based on the apps people use, which Facebook tracks through its Facebook Connect feature. On the same day, Facebook and Yahoo announce an advertising alliance to distribute ads across each others' digital properties.

July 13, 2012: Ad Age Digital reports that Facebook has started to automate purchases of its "premium inventory" (ads that "appear on the right rail of a user's news feed" on her "home page"). These ads can be bought directly through Facebook or some third-party sellers.

More on Facebook's Premium Inventory

Here are some other tidbits an online media planner might want to know:

  • Facebook declines to disclose the number of premium ad impressions it serves monthly, nor will it disclose desktop vs. mobile ad impression figures, but what it will say is that whereas mobile ads used to be thought of as a package deal with desktop, that's not the case anymore. The buyer can specify mobile vs. desktop when making their purchase. Facebook also encourages mobile-only ads buys for global brands seeking to reach people in countries where the majority of people access the Internet via phones, like Indonesia or India.
  • With respect to the Facebook log-out advertising opportunity, when I asked what percent of Facebook users never log out, Facebook answered by saying that 37 million do each day. With 500+ million daily users, that means only 7.4 percent log out!
  • Just because Facebook now has self-serve access to its premium ad inventory doesn't mean that it will accept any and all ads. Facebook still reserves the right to approve or reject ads according to its ad guidelines.
  • For producing premium ad creative, Facebook recommends using simple images with highly saturated colors to stand out against the site's white/blue background and to include your brand name or an image that denotes your brand.

What's your media planning experience with Facebook Ads? I'd love to hear it.



Hollis Thomases

A highly driven subject matter expert with a thirst for knowledge, an unbridled sense of curiosity, and a passion to deliver unbiased, simplified information and advice so businesses can make better decisions about how to spend their dollars and resources, multiple award-winning entrepreneur Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is a sole practitioner and digital ad/marketing "gatekeeper." Her 16 years working in, analyzing, and writing about the digital industry make Hollis uniquely qualified to navigate the fast-changing digital landscape. Her client experience includes such verticals as Travel/Tourism/Destination Marketing, Retail & Consumer Brands, Health & Wellness, Hi-Tech, and Higher Education. In 1998, Hollis Thomases founded her first company, Web Ad.vantage, a provider of strategic digital marketing and advertising service solutions for such companies as Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, and Visit Baltimore. Hollis has been an regular expert columnist with Inc.com, and ClickZ and authored the book Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day, published by John Wiley & Sons. Hollis also frequently speaks at industry conferences and association events.

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