Facebook unwraps mobile ad network, other mobile tools for developers

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), as expected, unveiled a mobile advertising network at its annual f8 developers conference, catapulting the social networking giant into competition with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) more established mobile ad networks. However, in addition to unwrapping the Facebook Audience Network mobile ad network, Facebook also announced a host of tools designed to make life easier for developers and consumers on mobile.

Perhaps the company's most notable announcement was that Facebook will allow users to log in to third-party mobile applications and try an application without having to first relinquish their personal data. The new feature, called "anonymous login," will let users test out apps without handing over personal information to third-party developers. "It lets you try apps without fear," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the conference in San Francisco, according to Re/code.

The ad network though was what most developers had been anticipating ahead of the conference. The network, details of which leaked earlier this month, uses the same targeting available for Facebook's desktop ads, including Custom Audiences, core audiences and lookalike audiences, and also features the same measurement tools marketers use for their Facebook ads.

Facebook is aiming to make it easy for marketers to transition to mobile advertising via its new platform. "For marketers already running News Feed ads on Facebook, using the Audience Network takes just one click," the company said. "The Audience Network will be available in all ad interfaces, as well as the API. Once a campaign is running in the Audience Network, our system handles optimization and delivery."

The Audience Network is designed to drive app installs and engagement, Facebook said, and will deliver ads in three different creative formats, or sizes, for mobile devices. Facebook said the network will "expand to include additional marketing objectives in the future."

The Audience Network will roll out to more advertisers in the coming months, Facebook said.

"This is really the first time that we're going to help you monetize in a serious way on mobile," Zuckerberg said, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook's mobile ad network puts it in direct competition with Google's AdMob, Millennial Media, Apple's iAd and other mobile ad networks. Mobile advertising is becoming big business for Facebook. The company said total revenue in the first quarter jumped 72 percent to $2.5 billion, with advertising revenue making up $2.27 billion of that, up 82 percent year-over-year. Facebook now gets 59 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile, up from 53 percent the fourth quarter and a huge jump from 30 percent in the year-ago period. Facebook counted 1.01 billion mobile monthly active users as of March 31, an increase of 34 percent year-over-year.

In addition to the Audience Network, the anonymous login was also a major announcement. Under the feature, each app gets a piece of unique identification code that can't be used to tie the user back to Facebook, according to Re/code

Another feature Facebook announced is called "Send To Mobile," which allows users to send links from the desktop to their mobile phones to download apps, for instance. Another feature is a mobile "like" button, which lets users like things on their mobile devices, even without Facebook login enabled. The button is coming first to Apple's iOS and then to Google's Android platform.

For more:
- see this Facebook blog post
- see this Facebook page
- see this separate Facebook page
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this GigaOM article
- see this Re/code article

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