Facebook is talking with AOL about an advertising partnership, according to a report in the New York Post. While the newspaper doesn’t regularly report on such topics, the idea that the social network and the web portal might be looking to work together isn’t that far-fetched. AOL’s network of ad properties still has substantial reach, and Facebook is growing at such a rapid pace — and attracting so much interest from advertisers — that it can probably use all the help it can get, even from a former web giant that is ailing financially as well as in relevance. AOL’s current advertising deal with Google expires in December of this year.
According to the Post report, which says the information is based on three unnamed sources, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have had talks about working together on advertising for the social network. Facebook has seen a sharp increase in the number of advertisers looking to take advantage of the company’s 500 million users and its ability to target those users based on demographics, their “taste graph” and other factors. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently said that advertisers on the network have increased their spending 10-fold in the past year. Facebook also regained control of its display advertising earlier this year, after several years of handing that off to Microsoft.
AOL brings two things to the table in such a partnership; one is a wide range of properties on which Facebook ads could be carried, if AOL were to become a media partner. According to a ranking earlier this year by comScore, the AOL ad network was the largest of its kind in December, reaching 187 million Internet users — more than both Yahoo and Google. One of the other powerful attractions for Facebook, as the Post story notes, is AOL’s CEO Tim Armstrong himself: Before he took the job, he was a senior VP at Google, where he helped develop the company’s AdWords business and worked with Sandberg, another former sales executive at Google. Those relationships, and Armstrong’s background in advertising and business development, could help cement some kind of arrangement, as Facebook tries to expand its reach beyond its own network.
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