Facebook, which turned its 1.65 billion users into a 18 billion ad business and growing, is now going to start showing ads to the rest of the world, even if they've never signed up for a Facebook account. The social network already tracks its own users around the web through its Audience Network, an advertising network for third-party websites; now, it is expanding this capability to non-Facebook users anyone visiting a website with a "like" button, the company announced Friday. That step is an effort to reach the more than 3 billion who use the internet, a broadside against Google's 24 billion display ad business, the world's largest. Facebook's strength lies in the troves of data it has on its active user base. That information can be used to inform the habits of the users it does not know so much about, what is called "lookalike targeting."
Companies like Facebook and Google are happy to offer you their services for free, but free always has a cost on the internet. Advertising pays the bills, and these big companies separate themselves from the pack by serving up ads that are better targeted than other networks. How do they target so well? By tracking you as you make your way across the web and building a profile that helps determine which ads you're most likely to click. Some people don't want to be tracked by Facebook, so they don't register an account with the site.
Facebook has taken the first steps in a bid to dominate advertising across the internet. On Thursday, the social media network said marketers who have signed up for the Facebook Audience Network will soon be able to show their ads to every website visitor and app user linked to the network -- rather than just Facebook account holders. The change is small but significant. By allowing publishers to show their ads on third-party domains -- whether or not the viewer is connected to Facebook -- the social networking giant has begun treading the same path that Google and other major ad network operators dominate. Andrew Bosworth, vice president of ads and Facebook's business platform said in a blog post that "companies can do better" and adverts do not have to be "annoying, distracting, or misleading."
There's plenty of shiny toys to look at when it comes to Facebook -- Oculus Rift, WhatsApp, Messenger and ambitious plans to bring the internet to every corner of the globe. At its core, however, is good old advertising. "We're going to pursue any avenue we can to help business owners, all within the bounds of privacy control," said Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's vice president of ads and business platform. "Consumers need to feel comfortable if we ever creep anybody out we've done a poor job." Ahead of Advertising Week 2016 in New York, Mashable spoke with Bosworth to learn how Facebook has grown in digital and mobile advertising and what the team is creating next.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook says it will help marketers show ads to all Internet users who visit websites or mobile apps that are in its ad network, not just Facebook users. "Today, we're expanding Audience Network so publishers and developers can show better ads to everyone -- including those who don't use or aren't connected to Facebook," Andrew Bosworth, vice president of ads and business platform, said in a blog post. Previously Facebook showed ads to Facebook users on other websites, using information the company had collected about users' interests and by installing cookies on browsers. This kind of ad tracking is common on the Internet but could help Facebook's growing advertising machine by significantly increasing the volume of ads that the social media company places on the Internet. Facebook generated more than 17 billion in ad revenue in 2015.