New York City– Facebook has observers wondering whether the company will transform its sprawling social graph into an advertising network. Even if an ad net is part of the broader plan, it appears the company won’t flip the switch on it anytime soon.
When asked by ClickZ News, COO Sheryl Sandberg responded, “We are not working on an ad network right now.” Her comment followed an interview of Sandberg by Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, during an Advertising Week event held Wednesday at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square.
Facebook’s social graph initiative, launched in April, places the company’s “Like” buttons on sites across the Web. It also connects partner sites to Facebook’s data stream, displaying a Facebook user’s friends and their interactions on those partner sites when enabled by those users. In addition, it can be used to customize content on partner sites according to interests people have indicated on Facebook.
Many have speculated in recent months that through its social graph functionality, the social network giant is essentially laying the groundwork for a huge ad network that could tap into targeting data from Facebook and partner sites, and turn the proliferation of Like buttons and Facebook connectivity into potential ad space. The result could be a network similar to Google’s AdSense with far more targeting horsepower.
While she did not rule out a Facebook ad network in the long term, Sandberg said little else about the possibility. Instead, she stressed that Facebook currently is focused on selling ads in its own Facebook.com inventory.
The discussion revealed mutual admiration between Huffington and Sandberg. Sandberg shared tips for marketers, including a suggestion that social media marketing should be an “iterative process.” She continued, “Really effective marketing has those big pushes, but it also has those daily interactions.”
Huffington questioned Sandberg about “The Social Network,” the film opening Friday that claims to tell the story of Facebook’s creation and is centered on founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “I saw the movie a couple months ago,” said Sandberg, suggesting the flick puts a glossy, Hollywood spin on an otherwise undramatic tale.