Driving Facebook App Yield And The Three Internets

appsFacebook’s list of approved ad networks for apps still doesn’t include Google’s AdSense.

The news continues to swirl as apparently the list was finalized last week according to a post on Slashdot. This remains one, complicated story with huge stakes for both Facebook and Google. And, neither company is talking.

Developers are pissed off and want-their-Google-AdSense as many have built businesses around the yield and scale (they can instantly monetize in most countries, for example) that the single Google ad network has provided them. No hops. No stack of ad networks. It’s an efficient story for the data-driven, app developer looking to max out the global opportunity of Facebook.

So, where are the public barbs and threats between Facebook and Google? Isn’t the recent poaching of Google execs by Facebook (examples here and here) just fueling an increasingly explosive fire, after all?

Well, there’s this “monopoly” bugaboo – a perception both companies want to avoid. If the two biggest players in digital advertising (two biggest players in advertising in 3-5 years, period) partner, where does that leave everyone else? Ok, that’s a good excuse, but hasn’t stopped Facebook from allowing developers to incorporate AdSense to-date.

And then there’s… Oops. Nobody planned on “revolution” being a part of the product roadmap.

Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution

More complication has been infused with Google Middle East marketing guy, Wael Ghonim, who took a few weeks off from Big G, aggregated a country’s anger and need for change in a single Facebook fan page, and played a critical role in the recent revolution in Egypt. (What have you done during your most recent vacation, Slacker?)

Notably, Google’s Ghonim gave thanks to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg for an event that will likely go down in the history books.

I wonder when Google or Facebook plays the Wael Ghonim card privately because I can’t imagine either doing it publicly:

  • [Google/Facebook]: “Hey app developers, it’s not our fault that the terms [Google/Facebook] is driving at are not in your best interest. Considering recent events, you’d think they’d be willing to partner.”

Uttering these phrases would be RADIO-ACTIVE as suddenly they start sounding like countries, not companies (and the Mayan calendar begins to make sense). Neither company – at least publicly – fully admits the critical role each could play in the world’s future culture. Our lives are getting spun into their businesses. Find me my answer (or friend), Google. Find me my friend (or answer), Facebook. I need you both to live.

Moreover, business hates getting involved in politics. But, with Google and Facebook favorably linked in transformational political events, both are working together in ways they have never planned. Now, on the business side, by legal rather than social contract, comes another potentially transformational moment for Facebook and Google: partner and continue to lock-up the ad ecosystem.


No doubt the time is ripe for the Facebook ad network. Instead of using the supporting list of ad networks or Google, Facebook could require use of the its own solution. But, for reasons known only to Facebook, it hasn’t started its own version of AdSense.

Let us speculate on a few reasons why no “FacebookSense” to-date…

  • The lingering effects of “Beacon”-gate and the public perception of the use of user data as a bummer.
  • The in-house Facebook.com ad business driving lava flows of money – who needs the ad network?
  • Facebook has yet to aggregate the significant global demand (buyers) that they want for their ad network and that Google already has.
  • Also, Facebook’s own cultural struggle to get in the ad business after being in the social business. Social engineers don’t want to work in the ad biz. Ads aren’t core to Facebook.

Don’t be surprised if AdSense pops up on the “approved” list of Facebook ad networks again in the near term with “FacebookSense” as the long term solution. It seems like a bad business move for Facebook to hurt its ecosystem of app developers by leaving off Google. Facebook needs Google now. For Google, the challenge is how do I get Facebook to need me once FacebookSense arrives. Those negotiations must be fun, eh?

As for concerns about monopoly… monopoly, shonopoly….

The Love For Three Internets

During the final panel discussion at last week’s IAB conference, Federated Media’s John Battelle quipped that maybe there should be another Internet created where all the cool stuff that people get for free is available, and in exchange, the user data flows relatively freely. So true! This is the future for Google and Facebook – they are on a path to making their own Internets. Everything they do reaches into our day-to-day lives and requires rules that Google and Facebook must control. Who will win? Maybe both.

Two Internets – and a third Internet which is a useless, opt-in horror show.

By John Ebbert

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