I’ll make this quick, because I’ve spent most of the evening searching my old coverage of Facebook from 2007 in an unsuccessful bid to back up with written word what I remember predicting repeatedly back then – that Facebook would (or should) launch an external ad network.
I distinctly remember feeling a bit embarrassed when I had to publish this post at Mashable, that detailed precisely what Project Beacon was (and wasn’t – that is, a threat to Google).
I remember using the line “you can never go wrong underestimating the foresight of the Facebook ad team” several times over the years.
All that to say, I’m pretty sure that I’ve made the prediction a few times – just not sure exactly where that prediction showed up. My guess is that it’s lost to history in one of the mis-managed Mashable podcast archives.
Why did I waste all that time tonight looking up what I said way back when? Because Mathew Ingram at GigaOm published a post that supposedly confirms that Facebook is finally doing just that – launching an external Ad Network. He says it’s because of the new Privacy and TOS that Facebook is implementing that puts the writing on the wall that this is becoming a reality.
I didn’t find his logic nearly as convincing, though, as I found these court documents that John Furrier came across last month. We never published anything on it, mostly because we’re really not in the business of highlighting it when our competitors are involved with Wall Street scandal, but if you do peruse the linked documents, you’ll find that the Wall Street Traders responsible for bringing to IPO Facebook illegally disclosed to Techcrunch information about a forthcoming external-facing ad network for Facebook.
It’s all interesting, and frankly, I think it’s a move that Facebook should have pursued almost five years ago. Back then, Google was vulnerable – a lot more publishers relied on pageview journalism and the cost-per-action model Google provided. These days, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a content mill that’s about run it’s course with CP-anything monetization.
The web has matured. Everyone is looking to the next business model, and moderately better behavioral marketing from Facebook isn’t going to be the silver bullet it would have been in 2007.