In the wake of its successful bid to buy a chunk of Facebook and represent the site’s overseas inventory, Microsoft can now kick back and enjoy being the exclusive source of display ad inventory on the hot social net. Can’t it?
Not really. As application incubators like RockYou and widget ad network newcomers like VideoEgg are quick to point out, the developers of applications for Facebook are free to monetize their page views any way they choose, including by offering sponsorships or accepting ads from large networks.
One such network, AdBrite, has taken notice of a steady parade of app developers marching to its service and made a move to capitalize on it. Starting today, buyers using AdBrite will be able to select a Facebook channel for media buyers. AdBrite’s founder and president of products, Philip Kaplan, said the media buying system already contains inventory in approximately 100 Facebook applications.
“People are trying to figure out what their Facebook apps are worth,” he said. “We’re in a good position working with the existing advertisers we have and getting them on Facebook apps.”
AdBrite says app owners made 43.8 million Facebook page views available to its network during the month of September and claims it now averages about 10 million available page views per day in the new Facebook App channel. All placements are standard IAB units.
The bulk of advertiser interest in the app phenomenon has focused on developers like RockYou, which reports its popular apps appear on 18 percent of all MySpace profiles and 15 percent of Facebook profiles. Rather than trafficking in ads linking to outside sites and banking on clicks, however, its focus is on helping advertisers drive downloads of apps and charging anywhere from .50 to $1 per install.
RockYou also offers more integrated tie-ins, such as a Resident Evil sponsored “Zombies” application.
“Since we’re all about self expression, that kind of monetization and sponsorship stuff is really interesting,” RockYou CTO and founder Jia Shen told ClickZ recently. “For all of our big successful stuff we’ve been approached and are doing sponsorships that make sense.” The company has been represented by Alloy Media and Marketing in some of those relationships.
AdBrite doesn’t want to participate in the closed Facebook economy or to provide tight sponsorships, but rather to support publishers eager to outsource ad placements on their apps. For such partners, Kaplan argues AdBrite can provide value in the form of advanced targeting capabilities, advertiser relationships and technology. “It’s going to shift a whole lot of advertisers to [the sitesa],” he said.