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Early Impressions of the Facebook Audience Network

Published: July 23, 2014

Author: Bill Cleere

Facebook announced the new “Facebook Audience Network” a few months back, stretching out its wide-reaching advertising arms beyond only Facebook itself.
You are probably familiar with “FAN” as it’s called, but let’s go through a brief recap:
Facebook Audience Network allows you to place ads outside of Facebook in addition to the traditional News Feed.  The apps available for ads within FAN are not revealed, nor is the amount of inventory, but it’s still indicative of the fact that Facebook is gaining more and more traction as a mobile advertising powerhouse.
Facebook Ads Manger/Power Editor gives the option to include FAN in your ads, or stay with the original recipe and leave them out.  We wanted to get some numbers back from campaigns that included both to see how they correlated.  Note:  Facebook doesn’t have an option to run exclusively on FAN; all ads have to run on News Feed as well.
So, how does it stack up?  We’ve run a couple of tests, and some very interesting numbers have come back.

Test results: FAN vs. News Feed ads

We ran a test with a character based game app that’s traditionally done very well on the mobile app ad front, set up some targeting to Pokémon fans, and checked the run on third-party apps box.
We saw some dramatic differences in CTR and frequency between FAN and News Feed:
News Feed:  Reach 130,000 / Freq 1.00 / CTR  1.89%. 
FAN: Reach 639 / Freq 3.20 / CTR 0.542%
What a difference a placement makes!  Frequency 3x higher, CTR 3x lower.  The CPI from FAN was a little lower, but with only a handful of actions, so there’s not a lot to measure from there.  So does Facebook have only a small amount of inventory available in these early days, or is there something else at play?  Probably a little of both. Developers can use the Facebook SDK to be part of FAN without requiring a FB login.  So for those apps, the targeting that Facebook is beloved for will not apply.  For those apps that do incorporate a FB login, you will get the same targeting benefits in those apps as you would in a native FB ad.
Another test we ran used no targets at all, no demo, age, gender, none of it to see if we could get more impressions outside of FB.  For that campaign we saw a significantly higher reach and more impressions, and the Frequency came in at 2.3.  As for the big stats, CVR were about 3x lower than News Feed.   However, the CPI came in 60% lower, but again, the lack of spend to action makes those CPIs nice to look at, but not much in the scalable department.
Facebook doesn’t reveal who its network developers are, so the ability to dive in and see just how many apps are out there isn’t in the cards.  From these experiments it appears the audience network is not a vast and fertile field, but it’s early days yet.
What is your experience with Facebook Audience Network so far?

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