Facebook has taken the first steps in a bid to dominate advertising across the internet.
On Thursday, the social media network said marketers who have signed up for the Facebook Audience Network will soon be able to show their ads to every website visitor and app user linked to the network -- rather than just Facebook account holders.
The change is small but significant. By allowing publishers to show their ads on third-party domains -- whether or not the viewer is connected to Facebook -- the social networking giant has begun treading the same path that Google and other major ad network operators dominate.
Andrew Bosworth, vice president of ads and Facebook's business platform said in a blog post that "companies can do better" and adverts do not have to be "annoying, distracting, or misleading."
In cases where pages are blocked by adverts rather than integrating well and in a seamless fashion, for example, can annoy rather than engage users and turn them away from viewing content.
"Advertising may be here to stay, but bad advertising like this doesn't have to," Bosworth says.
Adverts are a necessary evil for many online companies and services as they generate a much-needed revenue stream. However, Facebook says that respect for the user experience is key to ensuring users return and are not angered by advertising -- and the firm's standards, which include restricting sound, banning deceptive ads and unsafe products and services, are a way to make sure ads do not intrude, hamper or harm users.
The company says it has also "developed technology to determine when someone clicks on an ad on a mobile device by accident, so you don't get taken to a website or app you didn't mean to visit."
Facebook says that approximately 1.65 billion people use the firm's platform every month. Couple this with an expanded advertising network which isn't limited to just account holders and in the future this could mean Facebook will be able to vastly expand its ad network and clients -- potentially pushing the company up as a strong player in the video and display advertising industry.
One advantage Facebook has which many ad network operators do not is the vast treasure trove of data collected via Facebook users. Big Data has provided the company with the ability to analyze information to discern behavior and habits -- and so whether or not you are a Facebook user, a small amount of information can be used as a pointer to display ads you are most likely to be interested in.
Users are also able to change their settings to opt out of "interest-based" ads which are based on like and dislike data gathered by the social media giant. From today, you can also opt out of seeing ads on apps and websites not offered by Facebook based on your ad preferences.