Many advertisers and business owners ignore Facebook's audience network. However, there are benefits to targeting an audience outside of Facebook while taking advantage of Facebook’s targeting capabilities.

Sure, due to a significantly lower click-through-rate and a lack of full control over ad placement, Facebook Audience Network ads are less likely to convert. That said, Facebook Audience Network gives you access to many targeting options, including custom audiences and lookalike audiences, and in terms of CPM and CPC, it’s the least expensive advertising option that Facebook has to offer.

You’ll most likely want to avoid including Facebook Audience Network in your audiences, but there are a couple scenarios where it can make sense to leverage the Facebook Audience Network in your campaigns.

Facebook Audience Network tips and takeaways
  1. Facebook Audience Network is a way to expand your reach off Facebook by placing ads on third-party mobile applications
  2. It works best when you’ve already had good results with Facebook ads but want expand your reach off of Facebook
  3. Impulse buys and low-resistance call to actions are more likely to have a higher conversion rate
  4. Continually add low quality publishers and apps to your blacklist to improve performance

What is Facebook Audience Network?

Facebook Audience Network is a way for advertisers to place their ads off Facebook and onto a vast library of third party apps.

With Facebook Audience Network, you get the same targeting, bidding, and metric analysis tools as with regular Facebook ads, but with the added benefit of reaching a bigger audience who are using all kinds of different apps.

The biggest perk of including Facebook Audience Network in your ad placements is that your ads will reach people who don’t even have a Facebook account, so you’ll attract a whole new crowd of people who are inaccessible to you via regular newsfeed ads.

Initially, Facebook Audience Network was created to place ads both on third party websites and apps, but on March 11, 2020, Facebook announced its Audience Network will only be for in-app advertising. During the past year, the number of app developers and publishers who joined Facebook Audience Network increased sevenfold.

So, what ads can you expect to place on Facebook’s network of apps? Here’s the breakdown:

  • Native ads
  • Full-screen ads
  • Banner ads
  • Rewarded video ads
  • Playable ads

Even though ads placed in Facebook’s Audience Network is off of Facebook, you can still expect to use all the familiar campaign objectives thanks to Facebook’s pixel and event tracking capabilities:

  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • Engagement
  • App installs
  • Video views
  • Conversions
  • Catalog sale

What is the pricing of Facebook Audience Network ads?

CPM pricing of Facebook Audience Network placements over the past year were 32% cheaper than Facebook and Instagram newsfeed ads at $7.94 and $11.63 respectively. However, we’ve seen the difference in price between them getting much smaller since the beginning of 2020.

The cost of Facebook Audience Network placements in terms of CPC over the past year were 23% cheaper than Facebook and Instagram feeds at $0.69 and $0.89 respectively.

Facebook Audience Network placements also had a 5% cheaper cost per app install at $1.59 compared to Facebook and Instagram feeds at $1.68. Although this seems small, it’s incredible that app companies can get conversions for the same price or cheaper while accessing a whole new audience.

However, for ecommerce and other types of companies, CPMs, CPCs, and CPIs don’t tell the whole story. While the costs may seem lower at a first glance, the typical conversion rate for Facebook Audience Network ads is usually lower increasing your overall cost per purchase or lead. Therefore, you’ll most likely end up paying more for conversions on Facebook Audience Network placements as you would for news feed placements.

So, when is it worth investing in Facebook audience ads? The answer is after you’ve already achieved well-performing ad campaigns with regular news feed placements and you need more reach.

When are Facebook Audience Network ads effective?

Here are a few ways you can increase the effectiveness of Facebook Audience Network placement:

  • Advertise top-of-funnel content likely to get clicks
  • If you’re advertising products, low-price, impulse buys perform best
  • Ads for apps perform best because you’re more likely to target heavy app users
  • Create a block list of publishers that don’t attract your target audience
  • Monitor impressions statistics to get an idea of how many users are exposed to your ad

To identify underperforming app placements, open your Ad Manager and click on Brand Safety, an option you can find in the drop-down menu near the left corner of the screen. Next, click on Delivery Reports.

Next you’ll see a dropdown list of ad types you want to get delivery reports on, including newsfeed ads and Audience Network ads.

Choose the dates on which you want to see the performance of your ads, and click the download option to see the CVS file.

The delivery report shows you an estimate of the number of impressions for each URL, ranked from most to fewest.The reports are updated every 4-5 days.

Another factor that can contribute to your success with the platform is the format of your ad. Facebook recommends creating ads that cover as much screen as possible, and they provide templates to help you adjust your image aspect ratio.

Why you shouldn’t include Facebook Audience Network in your placements

A good rule of thumb in most cases is to avoid aiming for conversions and catalog sales objectives with Audience Network. Chances are, users won’t leave their news app or game to make a big purchase or submit a lead form. Instead, lure users with something entertaining or informative that doesn’t require a lot of friction to stop them from what they’re currently doing.

For example, if your user is using an app that tracks calories and macros, advertising a video that covers fitness topics is a reasonable move. Once you’ve got them engaged with your content, you can make the next move and retarget users with an ad selling your fitness gear.

A downside of Facebook Audience Network is that you won’t know for certain what app your ad will be placed on, but you can remove low quality and irrelevant app placements after the fact. You can also choose categories, but you can’t choose the publisher.

How to turn off and disable Facebook Audience Network ads

To exclude Facebook Audience Network from your ad placements when setting up a new campaign, make sure to select manual placements in the Placements settings block during the ad set creation step. Once you select manual placements, you’ll be able to fine-tune where your ads will be placed. At the bottom of the list, deselect Apps and Sites.

To remove Audience Network placement on existing campaigns, just edit the ad set and deselect Apps and Sites from your placement options in the same way as described above.

Who are Facebook Audience Network publishers?

Facebook has strict policies when it comes to what apps end up on their list, so you won’t have to worry about having your ads placed on spammy or low-quality apps.

Publishers that create adult content, advertise work-at-home schemes, sell unsafe supplements, or promote gambling are just a few examples of those that can’t join the network.

You can review their publisher list by accessing your Business Manager and selecting the Brand Safety option.

Next, select the Publisher list in the left column. A screen with Download Publisher List should appear like so:

The downloaded documents are in CSV format, so you may need a spreadsheet software to view them. On the publisher list, you’ll also find a link to another document composed of only publishers with low volume. This helps you avoid publishing your ads on apps with low traffic.