Facebook Says Its Network Now Serves Ads to Washington Post, Rolling Stone and 1 Billion People a Month

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Facebook said Audience Networks increases the reach of campaign by 16%.
Facebook said Audience Networks increases the reach of campaign by 16%. Credit: Facebook
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Facebook is bringing new publishers into its ad network, including Washington Post, Wenner Media and Univision, and the social network now claims to reach a billion people a month outside its own walls.

On Thursday, Facebook announced the updated roster to Audience Network, which has become its main ad technology for serving ads outside its own properties. Wenner Media owns Rolling Stone, and Washington Post has become one of the top digital publishers, reaching about 100 million unique visitors in November.

Facebook built the ad network for publishers to get another source of ad demand. Meanwhile, advertisers get to extend their campaigns off Facebook and Instagram. It's a highly controlled programmatic advertising platform, and Facebook claims it can target the billion people with the same accuracy it does on its own site.

"That's a billion people. Not devices or device IDs," said Brian Boland, Facebook's VP-publisher solutions. "When advertisers turn on Audience Network, they reach more people and they're able to do it in a way that's as effective as the News Feed."

Facebook has 1.8 billion monthly users and Instagram has 600 million monthly users, and still it is in search of ever more sources of ad inventory.

"The Facebook Audience Network is critical to the growth of Facebook," said Aaron Goldman, CMO at 4C, a data and media technology firm. "Advertisers have become much more sophisticated with how they define audiences, what creative to show them and what calls to action to use."

Video is one of the major areas of growth for Facebook's ad network, as more advertisers compete for limited supplies of digital video ad inventory.

Through sites like Univision, Facebook accesses pre-roll video ad inventory that is similar creatively to what advertisers buy on TV. The ads can last 30 seconds, and they often play with the sound on and appear within longer-form video content, which is a different experience than most of Facebook's own video ad inventory.

Facebook said that average video views are longer than 10 seconds in the audience network, longer than the average on Facebook, Mr. Boland said, although he did not disclose the average on Facebook.

Also, audience network increases the amount of people campaigns can reach by 16% on average, Mr. Boland said, adding that the ads outside Facebook boost sales, in-app purchases and other results.