Facebook is ending mobile web ads. What does this mean?

Recently, Facebook has begun shutting down the mobile web arm of its Audience Network and will halt mobile web ads starting this April. We presume this is being driven by privacy concerns and the ever louder calls to protect user data and prevent data breaches. As a result, some companies will need to start finding new ways to expand their audience and find new consumers.

Before 2020 when Facebook started implementing these ad changes, advertisers could target individual users directly and feed them ads based on their searches, likes, and follows. Because there were no restrictions on what advertisers could and could not use, there was potential for a huge data breach. Now that Facebook is limiting on what data can and can’t be used, advertisers are more limited in targeting individual users. They will instead have to advertise to large audiences that may or may not be interested in the product, making it harder for advertisers to hone in on consumers. 

Currently Facebook’s Audience Network ads are present on thousands of apps and websites. They can be the tiny rectangular advertisement at the bottom of your phone screen or the ads placed alongside a series of “click bait” links. They can also be full page pop-up ads or videos. Many times, they are ads for products that you just searched for or pages that you like and follow. Although many users claim the ads are annoying, they have proven effective enough to maintain themselves as a viable placement. 

According to Facebook, over one billion people see an Audience Network ad each month. Audience Network has allowed companies to expand their reach far beyond views on Facebook and Instagram. The Audience Network places ads across a huge range of websites and Apps. According to Anthony DiClemente, a former Nomura analyst, the estimated annual revenue from the Facebook Audience Network is over $2 billion. 

This change is part of a trend that will upend the model of making ad placements based on captured user data. Many insiders say the industry seems to be leaning towards a return to a practice of ad placements based on the content of websites and apps. Until then, advertisers can still use individual user data to attract potential customers. 

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