Facebook testing its ads in third-party mobile apps

Facebook readies a challenge to Google AdSense.

Facebook is testing its advertisements on outside mobile applications, calling it a new way for app developers to monetize their creations.

The trial would pave the way for Facebook to open its own mobile advertising network, which would further boost its growing mobile ad revenue.

"We are running a small test to explore showing Facebook ads in third-party mobile apps," Sriram Krishnan, who works on mobile products for Facebook, wrote on the company's developers blog.

"In this test, we'll be extending Facebook's rich targeting to improve the relevancy of the ads people see, provide even greater reach for Facebook advertisers, and help developers better monetize their apps."

Instead of using an outside ad-serving platform, the social media giant is collaborating directly with a handful of advertisers and publishers, Krishnan added, but didn't name the partners.

RELATED: Facebook ad spend up as marketers favour platform over Twitter

The trial is aimed at helping developers monetize apps more quickly amid the popularity of free apps, which don't always return a developer's investment. It could also help make ads on mobile devices more relevant.

The move is a challenge to Google's AdSense, a long-established platform that serves up automatic text, image, or video ads to targeted websites. AdSense has delivered nearly 30 percent of Google's revenue in recent years.

Facebook has long been planning and experimenting with mobile ads apart from those on its own Facebook mobile platform, but it said the current trial is different from previous forays because of the direct partnerships with advertisers and publishers. The current test is more like a mobile ad network, Krishnan said.

In the third quarter of 2013, Facebook's mobile ads made up 49 percent of its US$1.8 billion advertising revenue, up 66 percent from the same quarter in the previous year.

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