After The Wall: Impact Of Google’s Debut On FBX

facebook-doubleclickFacebook’s barricade against Google held up a long time, but the wall had to fall: Google wanted the audience, marketers wanted the interoperability and Facebook wanted the demand.

As we reported Friday, after giving Google the cold shoulder for more than a year, Facebook has decided to let DoubleClick Bid Manager bring its buying clout to the Facebook Exchange. Below is a rundown of what changed that convinced Facebook to take this step now — and what the knock-on effect could be for Google’s DSP competitors.

Customer Pressure

For years, marketers and agencies steeped in the Google stack have kvetched about Facebook’s hardline stance on Google-owned ad tech. Publicis CEO Maurice Levy complained directly to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, as AdAge reported last year.  For agencies especially, connecting DBM with FBX will make life easier.

“It’s a good acknowledgement of what marketers demand: to integrate the hundreds of media, technology and data partners available so that they can build the infrastructure that meets their own unique business needs,” said  MediaMath CEO Joe Zawadzki.

The relief will be most evident at Publicis and its Vivaki AOD trading desk, which has a long-standing ad-tech partnership with Google. But other agency traders are happy too.

“This will certainly simplify our business by decreasing one of the areas of complexity we have had to manage regarding access to FBX,” said Josh Jacobs, CEO of Omnicom Group programmatic trading unit Accuen.

Joe Weaver, managing director at Mindshare Trading Desk, said, “It creates less friction in the marketplace and provides more choice to the end marketer. Ultimately, we’ll need more flexibility from Facebook but, more importantly, Google as we all drive our clients forward in this space.”

Time To Open Up

Facebook stands to gain considerably as well. Most large advertisers and agencies are buying on Facebook, but DoubleClick Bid Manager still represents a massive pool of demand — some of which still has not made its way to FBX. Opening the door means more bid activity and overall higher yield.

And it’s not just the money but also the diversity of campaigns and the quality creative running through DoubleClick. On Facebook’s last earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company was investing considerably in ad-quality initiatives. This move could serve that goal.

Additionally, it appears Facebook may be opening up its exchange marketplace to other new players in addition to Google. As we noted Friday, FBX may already be live with Amazon’s DSP, Amazon Advertising Platform.

Head Start For Google Rivals

With nearly every constituent benefitting, why did Facebook wait so long? The answer, according to a source close to the companies: It wanted to give Google’s rivals a head start.

Facebook’s move means there’s no longer an obvious reason for marketers to go around DoubleClick Bid Manager in favor of another demand-side platform. This is scary for Turn, Nanigans, MediaMath, AdRoll, X+1, MediaMath and the 15 or so other FBX-certified companies. By delaying DBM’s access to its exchange, Facebook has created more revenue and customer momentum for those players.

This desire to slow Google down may sound immature or petty until you consider the inherent advantages for any large platform company in having a diverse partner ecosystem. Google, with its spending clout, might easily have dominated demand on FBX within a few months of launch. Over time this leverage could reduce Facebook’s ability to make platform changes that are in its own interest.

Facebook prefers to have numerous healthy partners. It hopes those vendors can maintain their edge as the DoubleClick marketing machine shifts into FBX gear. Time will tell.

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  1. All the main reasons for marketers not to use DBM (or why they left in the first place) are still in place, notably: The lack of powerful, transparent algorithmic optimization of media using 1st and 3rd party data with all the corresponding reporting and analytics. The lack of a meaningful service layer (hence trading desks lauding the news) and maybe most importantly, the perception that Google cannot truly be neutral when buying any inventory other than their own. Only an independent platform can objectively advise a marketer on how much media they should be buying from Google, Facebook, and anyone else in the sell-side ecosystem.

  2. Good comment Eric. Also, this change sheds light on the fact that even if you build (or buy) your way to a “complete stack” offering, everyone will *always* need or want at least one component that is another third party… either for technical or business reasons. It’s inevitable.