Commentary

Think Outside 'Walled Gardens' Once Facebook Shutters FBX

Facebook recently announced that in November it would be shutting down FBX, its desktop ad exchange that allows advertisers to buy retargeted desktop ads on Facebook’s platform through third-party partners.  In a move that supports the company’s position as the industry’s mobile advertising leader, you could say that Facebook also grew the walls around its garden to new heights.

Facebook’s often-unpredictable decisions can leave publishers feeling high and dry, but this time they aren’t the only party affected.  Starting Nov. 1, this most recent change will have a major impact on marketers heavily invested in specifically reaching Facebook’s desktop audience.

According to Facebook’s Q2 earnings report, of the $6.44 billion in revenue that quarter, 84% came from mobile ads. This is an overwhelming majority, to be sure — but when you are talking about billions in revenue, the remaining 16% is still a tremendous amount of media budget. If you’re an advertiser, and you know that the best way to reach a potential buyer of your product or service is through desktop retargeting and desktop-first strategies, then maybe Facebook isn’t the only scalable place to be targeting those particular consumers anymore.

Of course Facebook has enormous scale and reach. But the good news for advertisers is that the ecosystem outside of Facebook — the open Web — consists of hundreds of premium Web properties with unduplicated audiences. This is where the majority of online content is created. The open Web has existed since the advent of the ad-supported Internet, and was built for this very reason: to enable advertisers to reach targeted, unique audiences with their content. And the best part? They can do it at scale.

The evolution of ad tech and the industry’s constant innovation toward better user experiences has led to scaled connections between consumers, content and advertising.  Sponsored content units, a primary ad unit in FBX, are designed to belong in the content environments they are served in.  Now, the open Web already has the right tools in place: programmatic connections and buying tools for high-quality inventory sources, native-only demand-side platforms, openRTB 2.3 etc. And platforms are fully equipped to assemble and deliver this exact type of sponsored content ad unit in real-time, at scale.

Moreover, there is an important distinction to draw between ads surrounded by content residing within social networks, and ads within content created by publishers on the open Web.  As social platforms become more focused on user-generated content, brands are increasingly at greater risk, while publisher properties remain dedicated to the same objective they have always had: providing quality content, both editorial and sponsored, that their readers will find valuable.

Publisher properties live in the thriving, massive ecosystem of the open Web. Today, brands, marketers and publishers are armed with advanced tools and technology as never before, which allows them to maintain control over, and continue to grow, the distribution and monetization of their content with these audiences.

For marketers concerned about what the end of FBX will mean for their media plans, there is a pre-existing solution to their problem: the smart advertising ecosystem of the open Web.  Which means, as it turns out, that this was never really a problem at all.

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