Ad sales on Facebook are expected to reach a whopping $1.3 billion this year alone, thanks in part to the social network’s massive reach to over 500 million members. So it would make sense for Ad.ly, which operates an in-stream ad network on social platforms Twitter and MySpace, to be able to target users on the world’s largest social network. Today, the startup is announcing the ability for advertisers to place ads on Facebook Pages, within the Wall stream.
Ad.ly’s network, which currently reaches 100 million unique users, links up advertisers with influencers and regular users and then distribute links to marketing campaigns through the user’s Tweet streams and MySpace updates streams with full disclosure. And Ad.ly’s self service platform enables advertisers to connect with any user who signs up for Ad.ly’s service. So for example, an advertiser for Dell could choose which Twitter power-user or influencer to pitch their ad too and then submit a bid to a particular user. The publisher then approves or denies the request. Once the publisher approves the Tweet, the message is sent out via their account by Ad.ly, with a clear notice within the Tweet that the update is an ad with the language, “sent from Ad.ly Ad Network.”
Ad.ly will now help advertisers place brand promotions and micro-endorsements into Facebook pages on the influencer’s stream. Advertisers will be able to work with Ad.ly’s network of more than 70,000 Influencers, which include celebs and personalities like 50 Cent, Mandy Moore, Marc Cuban, Deepak Chopra and Kim Kardashian, on advertising on Facebook Twitter and MySpace. Ad.ly’s advertisers include a number of high-profile brands such as Microsoft, Sony, Toyota, and American Airlines.
For now, influencers with 5,000 or more “likes,” can use the service. Ad.ly co-founder Sean Rad tells TechCrunch that the number one request from both influencers and advertisers was to be able to use Facebook as a platform. Besides the audience reach, advertisers are bullish on the opportunity to serve branded photos and videos, and other rich media in-stream Facebook Pages (this inline functionality will soon be added broadly to Twitter.com as well).
A number of influencers and celebs didn’t have a large Twitter following, says Rad, but did have a high number of likes on their Facebook pages and were looking to be able to monetize from this via advertising. Unsurprisingly, advertisers found Facebook as a way to to reach a mass market audience. And a large protion of Ad.ly’s existing influencers have already added their Facebook pages to the startup’s system (the full feature will be available via Ad.ly’s site tomorrow).
Rad says that this is the first time that advertisers are able to serve ads in-stream on Facebook. He adds that Ad.ly and other networks are prohibited from serving ads on streams on in regular user profiles but says this new offering falls completely within Facebook’s guidelines.
There’s no doubt that other ad networks, including those focused on Twitter, will look to diversify to Facebook now that in-stream advertising is allowed on Pages. Armed with $5 million in new funding, Ad.ly was probably wise to move beyond Twitter, and expand into other social platforms; instead of depending on one network for ad revenue. And it would also make sense for Facebook itself to start extending its ad network to offer in-stream advertising as well. Rad says Ad.ly is not sharing revenue with Facebook. Yet.