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Facebook puts mobile ad network on the back burner

The social network will halt selling mobile ads outside of Facebook -- at least for now.

Facebook watchers -- particularly those of the Wall Street variety -- are eager for Facebook to launch a third-party ad network that will eventually take on Google's AdMob for mobile and Google's AdSense for the Web in general.

The idea, talked about for a while, is that Facebook will mix the data it receives from Web sites plugged into the social network -- think every time you "share" or "like" something -- with data it has from within Facebook to serve up ads across the Web.

Facebook executives haven't spoken much about this, although the company has taken steps in this direction. On Wednesday, however, Facebook said it's pausing at least part of this effort -- the mobile part. The company, which in September began selling ads that appear on apps or mobile sites you visit outside of Facebook, said it will halt the rollout at the end of the year.

"While the results we have seen and the feedback from partners has been positive," the company said in a statement, "our focus is on scaling ads in mobile news feed before ads off of Facebook. We have learned a lot from this test that will be useful in the future."

Translation: Facebook's mobile news feeds needs plenty of work, so we're better off focusing on that, especially since we don't have to share the revenue and, well, our stock -- on a roll lately -- is still $10 below its $38 dollar IPO price.

Of course, today's move doesn't mean that Facebook won't go forward with a third-party ad network, for mobile and non-mobile. In fact, it seems like a sure thing -- it'll just take a little longer. "This is a big opportunity and definitely on the list of to-dos," said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co.

Remember, too, that Facebook is reportedly in talks to buy Microsoft's Atlas ad platform, which helps advertisers buy and manage ads across the Web.