Facebook expands LiveRail ad network, but it’s not in a deathmatch with Google …

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Launches New Video Embeds & Comment Syncing From Site To Page.

Gaming execs: Join 180 select leaders from King, Glu, Rovio, Unity, Facebook, and more to plan your path to global domination in 2015. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the audience at the company’s annual F8 developer conference that native ads now account for more than half of the inventory on the Facebook Audience Network, with publishers realizing 7 times higher CPMs from those native units. LiveRail is Facebook’s existing ad server for video ads, which means the technology helps publishers manage their video ad inventories and ensure the right ad appears for the right user. Facebook says that LiveRail will support both native ads (where the ads are formatted to resemble the content) and more traditional units like banners and interstitials. Facebook on Wednesday announced plans to take LiveRail–the Web video ad technology firm it acquired last year–and extend its capabilities to mobile video and display advertising.

The plan was mentioned briefly in the keynote, and augmented in a blog post by LiveRail engineer Mark Edwards. “LiveRail will power native ad formats as well as standard display placements like interstitials and banners. That’s the takeaway from Forrester analyst Jim Nail following Facebook’s announcement today that it is expanding LiveRail, the video ad platform it purchased in 2014. Known in the online ad world as a “supply side” platform, LiveRail was built to help publishers sell more video ads via multiple automated channels. This will allow publishers to manage and optimize yield across all of their advertising opportunities, including ads directly sold to advertisers and ads from programmatic sources like demand side platforms (DSPs), ad networks, and agency trading desks.

In addition to native ad units, FAN has standard mobile banner and interstitial formats to promote app installs, app engagement or drive traffic to advertisers’ mobile sites. LiveRail’s video platform has been used by publishers and media companies like ABC, A&E Networks, Gannet and Daily Motion to serve ads on their video content. Both Bloomberg and Ad Age had reported that something like this was in the works, suggesting that this turns LiveRail into a competitor for both Google and Twitter-owned MoPub.

Update: To get more context around the announcement, I spoke to Elizabeth Closmore, global head of product evangelism, strategy, and partnerships at social media company Sprinklr. Between LiveRail and Atlas, the ad serving platform that Facebook acquired in early 2013, Facebook is directly challenging Google in a bid to become the dominant back-end systems operator for digital advertising. Describing this as “a very bold move,” Closmore suggested that this could also lay the groundwork for the reported deals to host content from news publishers like The New York Times and BuzzFeed. Other companies such as AOL and Adobe are also vying for that market, along with a slew of ad technology startups such as AppNexus, PubMatic and The Rubicon Project. LiveRail will also tap into Facebook’s anonymized demographic data and targeting capabilities through access to FAN, helping advertisers meet demographic targets before their ads are actually served.

Google doesn’t own a “stream” like Facebook’s News Feed, where it can stick high-quality brand advertising right into what people are reading and doing. At launch in 2011 and until now, the comment plugin gave publishers the ability to host a Facebook powered discussion board on their site, but the conversation there is largely siloed. But the Google-Facebook battle is front-and-center. “This is Tyson-Holyfield,” said one Web publishing executive who has worked with both companies. As more publishers and advertisers use Facebook data instead of Web cookies to target ads, it will increase the benefits of LiveRail for ad buying, potentially cutting out other exchanges and networks. Facebook’s latest moves to create an end-to-end ad platform the extends beyond its site is surprising no one, given its moves for Atlas, its Audience Network, and its purchase last year of LiveRail. “There’s basically a giant land-grab right now for ad-tech solutions that help publishers monetize their apps, and Facebook would be foolish not to try to take its share,” Oren Kaniel, CEO of mobile ad analytics firm AppsFlyer, told me via email.

The expanded Liverail could increase their reach further still (albeit in the form of advertising), into “a massive netowrk desktop apps and mobile apps.” Similarly, Closmore said today’s announcements (not just the LiveRail news but Facebook’s new support for embedding Facebook videos on other sites) should be a boon for Sprinklr clients, giving them more capabilities to take their Facebook content and campaigns beyond Facebook itself. While Mark Zuckerberg zeros in on real opportunity like mobile ads in the Facebook app, video plays in the app, monetizing Instagram, and building platforms with WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, Larry Page is looking at more pie-in-the-sky stuff like robotics and self driving cars. The discussion thread from any link posted on a site’s Facebook Page will automatically pull in comments from the plugin and vice versa. “The value here is we can unify the conversation in multiple places,” said Simon Cross, a product manager on Facebook’s platform team. “We think that’s going to increase engagement on your website because there will be more comments there.” The new feature is being rolled out in the next few weeks as a beta test with six publishers: BET, NHL, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Elite Daily and Fox Sports.

As far as other major competitors go, Twitter’s MoPub mobile ad network is more limited in its range of inventory, publisher connections, and user data, while Yahoo and others are simply not at the same scale. The API has been made available to 10 partners — Anvato, Brightcove, Fullscreen, Grabyo, Kaltura, NowThis, SocialFlow, Spredfast, Vimond and WhipClip — so its features are currently available only to customers of those companies. Attend MarTech and hear first-hand how brands like Coca-Cola, Aetna, Dell, EMC and Netflix are harnessing the power of technology to produce exceptional customer experiences that deliver business results.

Trefgarne. “Our new people-based targeting and mobile capabilities will help solve fundamental problems digital publishers face today.” After its mobile product lagged behind for several years, Facebook got serious about mobile a few years ago and began to make major strides. Google’s DoubleClick is focused more on intent data — what did you search for? — and Facebook, again, believes its user data will result in a better ad. Facebook’s goal is to provide publishers with every ad tool they might need, from managing and tracking ads, to selling ad space in bulk, to selling ad space in real time.

Android is a fantastically successful mobile operating system, but Apple’s iPhone has the most valuable users, and it’s taking share from Android. Larry Page has been a strong advocate for Google inventing the future through fantastic ideas like balloons that deliver internet, and contacts that measure glucose, and a startup that can prolong our lives. It feels like Google could turn into the next Microsoft — a company with brilliant people and brilliant ideas that fails to deliver, sending the stock sideways for a decade.

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