Who Thinks Facebook Isn’t Building an Ad Network?


facebook_small.jpgADOTAS – Tyler Winklevoss hit the nail on the head recently when he told The New York Post that “Facebook remains one of the least transparent companies….”

The irony of the company that wants users to share everything being extremely secretive regarding its internal workings is not lost on the media, who are constantly poking at Facebook execs regarding the company’s eventual IPO only to receive cryptic responses suggesting sometime in the near future.

But the advertising industry want to know about the Facebook ad network, something that’s been on our minds since the network launched the open graph social plugins and “Like” buttons popped up across the web. With the flick of a switch, Facebook could offer ridiculously targeted ads employing data gathered across 2 million sites with Like buttons.

And no surprise, Facebook won’t open up about it.

When prompted by ClickZ at an Advertising Week event, COO Sheryl Sandberg denied that the Facebook version of AdSense is being built: “We are not working on an ad network right now.” In true Facebook fashion, she added that it was still a long-term possibility, but Facebook is more concerned with its selling its own inventory.

Does anyone actually believe the social network isn’t assembling something that will make Google AdSense look like a child’s toy?

Google knows it’s coming, part of the reason it has been on an acquisition spree (23 in 2010) of mostly companies that will socialize its core offerings. That’s pretty much admitting the company has to play catchup in collecting data that can be hypertargeted for advertising like Facebook’s.

Many people wondered exactly what CEO Eric Schmidt meant a few weeks ago when he said, “The best thing that would happen is for Facebook to open up its data. Failing that, there are other ways to get that information.” Some thought he was suggesting thievery, since Facebook has little incentive to let anyone and everyone go nosing through its data.

But it seems he was saying: We know what you’re up to, Facebook, and we’ll be ready for you.

Will buying Twitter help them out in that quest?


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