Facebook cozies up with Walmart for mobile-ad blitz

After collaborating with Walmart on Black Friday, the social network may be looking to partner with other massive retailers on ad campaigns.

Wal-Mart's Facebook page. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Some users may have noticed that on Black Friday, Walmart was ever-present in Facebook's mobile news feed. That's because the massive retailer was trying out an experiment -- it took out 50 million ads on the social network in an effort to drive users to its Web site for holiday deals.

This experiment was Facebook's biggest mobile advertising campaign ever, and it's looking like there will be more to come, according to the Wall Street Journal. The social network is apparently thinking about letting other companies partake in similar experiments.

Walmart's collaboration with Facebook was different from a typical mobile ad campaign on the social network. Instead of paying by ad clicks, Walmart pre-bought millions of ads that then overwhelmed any other retailers advertising on the cyber shopping weekend.

Overall, the retailer bought 2 billion ads on Facebook to post throughout the holiday season, which includes the 50 million ads that it bought during the Black Friday experiment. Walmart declined to say how much these ads cost.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it's unclear how much the ad campaign drove Walmart sales, but the retailer's marketing chief, Stephen Quinn, did tell the newspaper that he "never saw this level of engagement" before with a digital-ad campaign.

While many people clicked on Walmart products for sale and 164,000 new Facebook fans "liked" Walmart's page, there were also several users that complained of the proliferation of ads in their feeds, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Whether Facebook will be able to monetize via mobile has been a hot topic of discussion since the social network went public for $38 a share in May. Many analysts speculated that in order to keep share prices from falling, the social network had to figure out how to monetize its growing number of mobile users.

After plummeting stocks and an all-time low in September , Facebook now seems to be recovering. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook's mobile-ad revenue grew in the last quarter to $153 million and its shares are currently up more than 50 percent since September. However, the social network's total ad sales have amounted to just a 10 percent increase per quarter this year and shares are still down since Facebook's IPO -- closing at $26.81 on Friday.

About the author

Dara Kerr is a staff writer for CNET focused on the sharing economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado where she developed an affinity for collecting fool's gold and spirit animals.

 

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