Facebook Gets New Friends

Published on April 4, 2011
by Emily Steel and Geoffrey Fowler

A new generation of agencies is trying to crack the code for placing ads on Facebook Inc. in a bid to lure more big-ticket marketers to the website.

In February, more than a third of all online-display ads in the U.S. appeared on Facebook, according to comScore Inc. That’s more than three times as many as its closest rival, Yahoo Inc., had.

But Facebook doesn’t come close to capturing a third of the online-ad budgets of major marketers, partly because its ad rates are relatively low, and also because of its hard-to-navigate in-house systems for buying ads.

Enter a new set of specialized Facebook agencies that seek to offer an easier way to buy ads on the social-networking site. The emergence of more than a dozen firms, including Blinq Media LLC, Kenshoo Ltd. and Web-trends Inc., follows a move by Facebook in 2009 to start opening direct access to its internal ad systems to select outsiders.

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