Ad Platforms - Microsoft, Google, and Facebook

We've been covering the exciting state of web advertising platforms since the inaugural MIX.  With last week's announcement that our acquisition of aQuantive has completed, I wanted to recap some other recent related news.

You probably saw the biggest news about Microsoft: we are doing in-game advertising for EA games, doing ads for Digg.com, and continuing to work with Federated Media.  These are some of the most powerful companies in their respective categories, so it's a sign that our ad platform is being taken seriously.

 You might have missed the report from compete.com, though, comparing aQuantive's Atlas with Google's Doubleclick.  This is measuring only one metric, reach, but interesting nonetheless.

 

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 The most intriguing news to me, though, concerns Facebook.  Facebook has 30 million users and exceptionally high time spent on site, so they don't need to be dependent on a sugar daddy for ad revenues like many "long tail" companies are.  But instead of using this power to lock-in their application developers, they appear to be letting other people openly establish ad networks on Facebook pages.  Mike Arrington has a good post about four such networks.  Sure, it's only fair, since the application developers are the ones doing all the hard work to build popular apps.  But Facebook could have retained complete control, and it's inconceivable that any of the other big sites would give up this much control voluntarily.

This indicates that Facebook sees their number one priority in driving value to their social graph.  This is a true platform play, similar to Windows.  Even more interesting is the way this is enabling experimentation and innovation in ad platforms, which could lead to higher ROI and new competitors to Google. 

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