Business Insider is reporting that Facebook just filed a patent that would allow the social media platform to display both ads and content on a variety of channels. Although BI points out that Facebook files patents frequently, and many do not get implemented, this one seems a natural next step for the platform.
The patent application, which you can see here, states that the prospective system will:
To enable publishers to provide content items to users who meet targeting criteria of the content items, an exchange server aggregates data about the users. The exchange server receives user data from two or more sources, including a social networking system and one or more other service providers… The exchange server then applies the aggregated user data to select content items for the users, either directly or via a publisher.
In other words, data from Facebook and another source would be used to select people to display ads or content to. For example, if an advertiser was looking for men in their 20s who made in-app purchases to advertise a video game to, they would be able to select individuals who met this criteria. From there, the proposed system would allow them to show ads as well as content, including images, videos and other native advertising, to these people on a number of channels (AKA other people’s websites).
What’s interesting is that user data is to be pulled from more than just Facebook. The goal of this is to ensure that users are matched appropriately to campaigns, and it hints of partnerships with retailers or other social sites (which Facebook is already doing with Instagram).
If two or more advertisers are competing for the same user base, an auction is set up. It appears something akin to Quality Score will be involved because the patent states that the likelihood that the user will end up clicking on an item or making a purchase will be involved in determining which ad or content shows.
Based on what I read, it appears that they’ll be using the Atlas platform to ensure tracking of users across multiple devices and to protect the privacy of users.