Facebook Plans First Foray Into Mobile Ads

Social Net Increases Focus on Smartphones and Tablets Ahead of Possible IPO

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Facebook plans its first push into mobile advertising by the end of March, giving the company a fresh source of revenue ahead of a possible initial public offering, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

An idea being considered is putting Facebook's Sponsored Stories ads, which feature friends' interactions with brands, within the mobile News Feed, said the sources, who declined to be identified because the plans aren't public. The News Feed lets users view status updates, photos and other content.

Facebook, the world's most popular social-networking service, would be playing catch-up in mobile advertising to Google, Apple and Millennial Media Facebook's potential advantage is that by gathering so much information about a person's interests and associates, it can help advertisers target potential customers more directly than mobile web browsers or applications.

Facebook, which has more than 800 million users, is increasing its focus on mobile technology with the aim of taking advantage of the shift to smartphones and tablets. The company expects its next 1 billion users to come mainly from mobile devices rather than desktop computers. More than 350 million users already access Facebook through mobile devices, according to the site.

The company had originally expected to roll out the advertising service on mobile devices earlier this year, and the plan could be delayed again, one of the people said.

Brandon McCormick, a spokesman for Facebook, declined to comment. Facebook announced a mobile service last year that lets companies reach out to potential customers with discounts based on location.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is considering raising about $10 billion in an initial public offering that would value it at more than $100 billion, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month. Facebook may file for the IPO before the end of the year, according to the source.

Facebook's revenue is expected to rise to as much as $6.9 billion in 2012, from $4.27 billion this year, according to eMarketer. The research firm said almost 90% of Facebook revenue comes from advertising revenue. It also makes money from its Credits business, which earns a commission on transactions in certain applications, such as games.

-- Bloomberg News

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