Facebook is making its big mobile move, hopefully calming the frothing critics, with an initial test of a mobile ad network. Everyone knew it was coming, but it's probably sooner than anyone expected.
It makes sense though, Facebook will now serve targeted ads on other people's apps based on its demographic data.
Everyone knows Facebook is sitting on a treasure trove of information about all of its users, the biggest and most detailed in history.
It's why Facebook is always pushing you to share more and with more people.
Facebook's been putting this data to good use for a while now, but is doubling down on it with its mobile play. Advertisers will be able to target users based on all of the criteria Facebook makes available in mobile app ads.
Facebook is not adding these ads to its own app, a smart move. On the one hand, it doesn't clutter the UI and bog down the experience. On the other, people don't really click (touch) ads on Facebook.
Moving beyond its app means it can reach users wherever they are. This is where the Facebook mobile platform comes in handy.
Only apps that offer Facebook integration, i.e. allow users to log in with their Facebook credentials, can run these custom ads, for obvious reasons.
This puts Facebook desire to push a mobile platform and sink its hooks into mobile apps into perspective. Facebook needs to "be" inside mobile apps if it hopes to monetize them.
Still, the Facebook integration requirement will mean that Facebook's ad network has a smaller reach than Google's or Apple's. At the same time, Facebook is able to offer much better targeted ads as it has a lot more info on users than either Google or Apple.
The only problem for Facebook will be scaling. If it can generate big revenues for app makers, you'll start seeing more and more of them adopting Facebook.
If the plan works, Facebook will be on any device and on any mobile platform, without having to build its own, like Google, Apple or Microsoft.
The move also shows that Facebook has its sights firmly on the mobile space which should, hopefully, calm some of the unwarranted and uniformed criticism that has been driving down share price.