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:
What's your media planning experience with Facebook Ads? I'd love to hear it.
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A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."
March 19, 2014