The beginnings of the long-awaited Facebook ad network could be here. Facebook ads began running on Zynga.com today.
First reported by Inside Facebook today, Facebook display ad units including Sponsored Stories are now being served on Zynga.com, the casual games site from the company behind popular Facebook gaming apps like Farmville.
“People may now see ads and sponsored stories from Facebook on Zynga.com,” confirmed a Facebook spokesperson in an email sent to ClickZ. “We don’t share any information about people or advertisers with Zynga and advertisers do not have any new targeting criteria.”
In other words, this is not really the ad network ad industry watchers have expected Facebook to launch in conjunction with its Open Graph. Many anticipate a robust ad network that will allow advertisers to target ads across the web based on behavioral and contextual data gleaned through Facebook share buttons, and data collected through interactions on Facebook itself.
Whether or not that will ever come, in the nearer future observers can probably expect to see Facebook ads running on other sites that allow people to sign in using Facebook.
Facebook also piqued interest in its alleged ad network ambitions when news of partnerships with several DSPs broke last week. Facebook plans to open its site up to a large pool of data for display ad targeting, allowing advertisers to target users based on data from the DSP partners. Advertisers will target people through the DSP partners, and if Facebook finds a cookie match, an ad will be served on Facebook. However, they can’t combine native Facebook data with that outside data, which would be sure to ruffle feathers among privacy advocates.
Facebook is balancing constant pressure from privacy wonks and legislators with the need to convince investors that the company will be able to grow its ad revenues and meet the market’s expectations. Considering Facebook’s IPO debacle and subsequent concerns about the firm’s ability to build its ad business, Facebook may be making a strategic choice to appeal to investors, hoping not to offend privacy concerns over its new ad products and partnerships.