Facebook, Publicis Square Off Over Google's Exclusion from Facebook Ad Exchange

Wary of Google, Facebook Blocks Invite Media From Ad Exchange

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When Facebook revealed the names of ad-buying technologies that would have access to the new Facebook Exchange, one notable name missing was Google's Invite Media, now known as DoubleClick Bid Manager.

That decision is now putting Facebook at odds with Publicis Groupe , one of the world's largest advertising holding companies, whose trading desk uses Google's technology for much of its targeted ad-buying, Ad Age has learned.

Maurice Levy
Maurice Levy Credit: Eric Dessons

The displeasure has made its way to the top of Publicis with its CEO Maurice Levy getting involved, a person familiar with the situation said. In fact, Mr. Levy has brought the issue directly to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, this person said. A Facebook spokesman declined comment.

A spokeswoman for Vivaki, the Publicis division that houses its ad-buying trading desk, would not comment on talks between Mr. Levy and Ms. Sandberg but characterized talks between the companies as "ongoing and positive."

In the meantime, Vivaki has turned to other technologies such as Turn, to buy ad space through the Facebook Exchange, two people familiar with the situation said. But people familiar with the company's thinking say Publicis does not see that as a long-term solution and does not like the idea of Facebook dictating which technology it can use to purchase ad space on Facebook.

The impact of Invite's exclusion, though, extends beyond Publicis. Other agency trading desks, including Omnicom's, also use Google's Invite technology for some targeted ad buying. An Omnicom spokesperson declined to comment.

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg

The Facebook Exchange marks the first time advertisers could target ads to groups of Facebook visitors using their first-party data, as well as third-party data and Facebook visitors' browsing habits elsewhere on the web. One limitation to buying on the exchange is that buyers can't use any Facebook data to target these ads. The exchange originally launched with fewer than 10 technology partners, but is now up to 15.

The exchange and Facebook's strategy for it are just a few months old. The company could simply be taking it slow and choosing to add partners at a moderate pace. Google's Invite technology could eventually be one of the partners. Still, it is certainly telling that the Google technology, one of the top so-called demand-side platforms, has not been granted access yet, and highlights the wariness that Facebook has of Google's growing dominance of the pipes that power online advertising.

Still, Google is finding other ways to get in on the Facebook ad land grab. Google this month closed its deal for social-marketing firm Wildfire, whose services include placing ads on Facebook for advertisers. Facebook also allows advertisers to serve display ads with DoubleClick's ad server.

Google is also believed to be in talks with Facebook about the issue. A Google spokesman declined comment.

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