In a major expansion of the Facebook Audience Network (AN), Facebook has announced that it is expanding its ad network to desktop and will start selling video ads on behalf of other companies. This move could build up in its competition with Google and other online ad players.

The AN will deliver ads in both in-stream and in-article formats, Facebook wrote in a blogpost. “In-stream” video ads will play before, during or after (pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll) video content on third party apps and sites across mobile and desktop, including video publishers like USA Today Sports Media Group. “In-article” video ads will appear on mobile pages of publishers, like Daily Mail, between paragraphs of text and play automatically when at least half the pixels are viewable and in this format, viewers will have the option to opt-in for sound.

“In-stream” ads will be between 10 to 30 seconds, while “in-article” clips can be up to 20 minutes long, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The company also informed that publishers can also opt to include the video ads alongside content on Facebook’s Instant Articles feature, where media companies publish articles instead of linking back to their sites.


Facebook claims that its two-year-old Audience Network accounts for almost 6% of all time spent by U.S. web surfers on mobile. WSJ also reported that the number of publishers to join the network has grown by 620% over the past year and the division currently has an annual run-rate of $1 billion.

Its ad revenue jumped 57% in the first quarter to $5.2 billion. Some 100 million hours of video are watched daily on Facebook feeds, according to the company.

Google still runs one of the biggest ad networks online and dominates digital advertising, with advertising revenues of $18.02 billion, increasing 16.18% for the quarter ended March 31, 2016. Google AdSense offers ad placement within blogs and websites with ad inventory sold on a cost-per-click basis.

Facebook typically takes about 30% share of revenue for display advertising on behalf of its Audience Network, WSJ reported. However, the share taken by Facebook now remains unspecified.

Google’s AdSense for publisher works in a similar way as AN, with Google sharing revenue with the publishers. A publisher receives 68% of revenue from content ads and 51% from search ads, according to the company.

Other developments

Facebook Advertisers can extend their brand video ads to the apps and websites in the Audience Network in the same way they do so for direct response video ads, by leaving “Audience Network” checked in the placement section when creating or editing their ad. This option will roll out to advertisers everywhere over the next few weeks, the company said.

Facebook says that it wants the new formats to carry branding messages as the Audience Network has historically focused on direct response ads, both image and video, but now it will offer a solution that optimizes results for marketers focused on brand awareness and recall. It also said  people will be able to view these videos on other apps and sites where they spend their time, apart from Facebook and Instagram.

One of the first marketers to make use of the service is fast-food company Jack In The Box

Facebook had also introduced Live videos recently, with a host of additions to video streaming.