Is Facebook Set to Become the Google of Social Media?

Hot on the heels of dropping more than 15 companies from the Facebook Exchange and revealing to the Wall Street Journal that it has quietly built its own CRM, Facebook has launched a new mobile ad creation app that allows advertisers to create and manage Facebook campaigns from mobile screens. The flurry of activity has left some speculating that Facebook is making moves to become a major player in the digital advertising space.

The Ads Manager App is an extension of last year’s Ad’s Manager mobile site. It will allow Facebook advertisers to create ads, track performance, buy ad space, and send push notifications from mobile. According to Facebook, simplified mobile ad campaigns are an ideal solution for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who rely on the social media site to reach customers.

“All businesses will benefit from this,” a Facebook spokesperson tells ClickZ. “We’re addressing the consumer shift to mobile by providing businesses with incremental benefits.”

But while these new ad offerings could make it easier to advertise on Facebook, they also make it more difficult to leverage campaigns across multiple social platforms. In fact, Facebook’s decision to cut companies like Rocket Fuel, an optimization company, and Adobe, a data company, from Facebook Exchange probably means that the company is looking for more control over data and targeting, which will ensure that brands looking to advertise on Facebook use the Facebook API exclusively.

“Facebook is recognizing that it is a very large player, and it doesn’t want other companies riding on its success,” says Larry Allen, senior vice president of global platform sales for Xaxis. “It would rather bring it in-house and control the experience with marketers. Over these last two years Facebook has been gearing up to go direct to marketers to deliver all ad experiences.”

Direct-to-marketer relationships will definitely simplify the marketing experience on Facebook, but it also puts Facebook in a position to dominate advertising budgets, marginalizing other social platforms like Twitter and Snapchat.

“Think about Google,” Allen says. “It created an amazing advertising experience in direct search results, then it created AdSense and pushed it out. Facebook is going to do the same thing except it’s going to be supercharged with audience and CRM data. Right now, people allocate 90 percent of their budgets to advertising on Google and then they buy Microsoft and Yahoo. I think the same thing will happen in social [with Facebook].”

According to Facebook, there are 2 million active advertisers on the platform and more than 800,000 of them are using the Ads Manager mobile site. Whether that’s enough to make Facebook the Google of social media remains to be seen.

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