Facebook to Close Part of Audience Network: What Does It Mean?

By Tinuiti Team

Facebook has officially confirmed that it intends to close part of its Audience Network — the mobile web arm — beginning April 11th.

“According to a spokesperson, Facebook will prioritize areas where they see growing demand from advertising platforms, and that those areas were by and large across mobile apps as opposed to the mobile web,” explains Andy Taylor, Director of Research at Tinuiti.

Here’s everything that we know about the planned phase-out of the mobile arm of Facebook’s Audience Network and how it could impact advertisers.

“Facebook won’t say for sure why it’s happening now, but our hunch is that it has to do with updates to Google’s third-party data tracking that is rolling out. It’s important because it has implications for the future and how Facebook can potentially be tracked in the future as companies like Google and Apple update their privacy settings.”

katy lucey

— Katy Lucey, Director of Paid Social at Tinuiti


What’s Happening?


Facebook is planning a phase-out of the mobile web arm of its Audience Network, specifically its web and in-stream placements.

“One key thing to understand is that they aren’t totally shutting down the Audience Network, just part of it,” explains Lucey.

facebook audience network
Source: Facebook


According to sources, the planned phase-out will occur over a 4-month window:


How Will the Change Impact Advertisers?


While advertisers might be concerned to learn that a portion of the Audience Network is closing, experts believe that there will be very little impact for most advertisers.

For those that do use the Audience Network for Web and In-stream placements, there’s ample time to adjust accordingly, given the 4-month phase-out.

“I believe the impact will be light. Less than 2% of Tinuiti clients had spent on FAN’s mobile arm and overall, FAN has much less of an impact than feeds,” explains Lucey.


Facebook Audience Network a Small but Steady Share of Facebook Spend


“Evaluating how the Facebook Audience Network has performed for Tinuiti advertisers, the change isn’t likely to hugely impair advertisers’ ability to invest in Facebook properties,” says Taylor.

“Across US campaigns for Tinuiti advertisers, the Facebook Audience Network accounted for between 0.8% and 1.6% of total spend across all properties, including Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook proper, every quarter of the last two years. In Q4, that share was 1.5%.”

andy taylor amazon ads researcher

— Andy Taylor, Director of Research at Tinuiti


facebook audience network spend share
Based on anonymized account data


“99% of Facebook Audience Network in Q4 2019 spend was attributed to mobile devices, but this update only extends to that inventory available on the mobile web. As such, the total share of Facebook spend impacted is very slight for most advertisers and should not meaningfully affect Facebook ad revenue,” explains Taylor.

“That said, some advertisers targeting the Audience Network invest more heavily than others, with the advertiser that registered the highest spend share from this segment coming in at 11% in Q4. The overall impact will still likely be modest even for those advertisers at the high end, owing to the change only impacting mobile web inventory and not mobile app inventory.”


What Should I Do?


Facebook cautions that your performance may fluctuate during the phase-out period.

” Keep an eye on mobile CPMs to see what reach looks like,” advises Lucey.

For additional steps on how to prepare for the change, check out Facebook’s official post here.


Want to learn more?

The 2020 Facebook & Paid Social Guide for Brands

What is the Facebook Learning Phase? [2020 Update]

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