With New Support For Mobile Ads, Facebook’s LiveRail Isn’t Just For Video Anymore

Facebook is expanding LiveRail, the video ad platform that it acquired last year, with support for non-video mobile ads.

Facebook’s Deb Liu announced the new features today while on-stage at the company’s F8 developer conference. Basically, it means that mobile publishers will be able to manage a variety of mobile ad types from within LiveRail and also improve the targeting using Facebook’s anonymized data — Liu pitched this as a way to extend the company’s “people-based approach to monetization.”

You can find more details in posts on the Facebook and LiveRail blogs. 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. The company says:

Starting soon, we’ll be enabling better control, efficiency, and higher yield across video and mobile display formats. 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. Advanced controls will allow publishers to prioritize buyers, block certain ad categories, run real-time reports, and get suggestions for optimal inventory pricing.

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.

Facebook says it will start testing these new capabilities in the next few weeks.

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. 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.

“I certainly think they’re related,” she said.

What’s the connection? Well, Closmore noted that the main reason publishers would make these deals would in the hopes of increasing their reach. 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.