What If Facebook Taketh Away?

An interesting feature story on Wired News, about the emerging ad networks built on Facebook’s platform, and how their future is heavily reliant on FB’s continued tolerance of them. There are at least eight companies: Lookery, fbExchange, Cubics, Social Media and a new addition, Appfuel. Several widget distributors, including RockYou and Slide, as well as video-solution provider VideoEgg, are in this game as well.

But a few imminent things could spoil this nascent party, as the story points out: Facebook is preparing to do the same thing as these companies, and in a more targeted way. And then, the quest to monetize, fuled by its crazy valution: “While Facebook earned respect for ringing the come-and-get-it dinner bell to developers, that level of benevolence seems incompatible with its $10 billion ambitions and a possible march to IPO, particularly since the company is only pulling in an estimated $30 million in profit on $150 million in annual revenues. A more-targeted ad network, run by Facebook itself, would be one obvious way to increase the cash flow.”

Then a slightly ominous scenario: the data from these newbie ad networks runs through Facebook’s servers, so Facebook can easil learn from their successes and mistakes, and can do so in intimate detail, the story points out.