Facebook’s Sandberg Says Ad Network And Maps Would Be Nice, But Not A Priority

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claims Facebook has no plans to build an offsite ad network or a mapping feature, even though they’d be nice to have. Today at the D11 Conference, Sandberg reiterated that Facebook is squarely focused on mobile, and can’t distract itself.

Facebook was in talks to acquire social traffic map app Waze but our sources confirm AllThingsD’s report that negotiations have broken down. Many claim the two would be been a good fit, though it would have been an expensive purchase. Yes, Facebook needs more mobile engagement, and yes, both of its competitors Apple and Google have their own maps. Still, it would have been far outside of Facebook’s core mission of sharing the things you care about…unless you think avoiding a speed trap is central to your life story.

Previously Facebook powered some offsite ads on Zynga.com. Later it began testing a more full-fledged mobile ad network, allowing other apps to use its biographical targeting data to make their ads more relevant. Facebook “paused” the mobile ad network a few months ago without citing a reason. It could bring in a lot of money, but wouldn’t necessarily improve the Facebook user experience. It could also freak people out to see their private Facebook data used to target ads at them on other properties.

Sandberg explained “We have to prioritize ruthlessly” and the first priority is a better Facebook mobile experience, implying a full-fledged mapping app or a money-printing ad network wouldn’t fit with it’s current agenda. She specifically referred to an ad network as “a non-goal.”

Sandberg discussed the recent launch of Facebook Home, calling it just the first version of the company’s effort to make the smartphone more social. She noted that the company will continue to update the platform monthly, as it seeks to improve the user experience.

The launch of Facebook Home was highly touted, but didn’t have the huge reception that was expected. However, Sandberg says that the company is committed to making the mobile phone more social. In doing so, though, there’s been a very bi-modal reaction to the new “apperating system,” according to Sandberg.

“Reviews are ones or fives,” she said. There’s not a lot of in-between. Part of the reason for that, she believes, is that those who love it are already really big Facebook users. Those who don’t love it have a negative reaction to the way it takes over the way they manage and move between apps. At the same time, according to Sandberg, even those who don’t love the app still like its two core features — its preview pane and chat heads.

For Facebook, continuing to invest in mobile is key to the future. Today, mobile accounts for about 30 percent of all revenues, compared to zero not too long ago. And Sandberg believes that the company has a huge advantage on mobile versus on desktop. Today, Facebook accounts for about one in five of all minutes spent on mobile phones, versus the desktop, where it gets one in seven minutes of user attention.

Sandberg has had a big year as COO at Facebook, as well as because of the launch of her book, Lean In. She said that she wrote the book to help open the conversation about gender. “I wrote Lean In because, as it turns out, men still rule the world… and I’m not sure how that’s going,” Sandberg said.

As it relates to the technology market, Sandberg believes that growing the number of women in consumer science fields can actually help alleviate some of the engineering talent crunch. In the mid-1980s, she said, the percentage of women in computer science degrees was about 35 percent, Sandberg said. But now that’s down below 20 percent.