Facebook says it has seen a 10-fold increase in the number of apps working with Audience Network, its mobile ad network.

Facebook Inc. today offered a peek at how its Audience Network mobile ad network is performing for publishers. The social network says that Audience Network had a $1 billion annual run rate during the fourth quarter with the “bulk” of that money going to publishers who let Facebook place ads on their mobile apps.

The run rate extrapolates a particular time period’s results to predict future returns. In other words, Facebook’s post suggests that roughly $250 million ran through Audience Network in the fourth quarter.

While Facebook declines to share how many apps work with Audience Network, it notes that over the past year it has seen a 10-fold increase in the number of publishers hosting ads, include such high-profile names as the Huffington Post and Shazam, and that advertisers on the platform include The Home Depot Inc. and music-streaming service Spotify Ltd. Apps running on Audience Network account for 6% of all time spent in mobile apps.

Key to Audience Network’s success is that it enables retailers and other advertisers to place native ads that don’t stand out from other content within an app the way that banner ads and interstitial ads do, says a Facebook spokesman. He says that over the past six months Facebook has seen a five-fold increase in the number of apps that let marketers place native ads via Audience Network.

“That format is driving results for advertisers and higher CPMs for publishers,” he says. Indeed, last May Facebook said that more than half of developer revenue from Audience Network stemmed from native ads, and that publishers have been able to charge up to seven times more per thousand impressions for native ads compared to standard banner ads. CPM refers to the cost of placing an ad per thousand times the ad is viewed, or impressions.


Meanwhile, Facebook also said today that it is shuttering the ad server business it runs through LiveRail. In doing so, it aims to focus LiveRail’s business on handling private marketplaces—where publishers offer inventory to select advertisers, who often buy those ads programmatically—and mediation—which lets publishers manage ads from multiple ad networks. Facebook says that over the next few months it will begin moving LiveRail’s ad-server customers to Facebook’s other publisher products or alternative ad servers.

Facebook says ad serving was a small part of LiveRail’s business given that the product was only offered for desktops. “We were faced with a decision to recreate all of the features and functionality of the past decade’s ad-serving structure” for mobile, says the spokesman—or Facebook could focus on LiveRail’s other products, which the spokesman suggests offer more value.

Today’s announcements, the spokesman says, reflect Facebook’s belief that the future of digital advertising is in mobile and programmatic ad buying, as well as in native ads.