Facebook to Escalate a Bidding War for Native Content?

facebooklogoIs Facebook poised to start a bidding war with Google? It could be, judging from a recent patent application filed by the Zuckerberg et al.

The patent application,” notes Business Insider’s Lara O’Reilly, “details an ad exchange that combines an advertiser’s data with Facebook’s own social graph to find users that match a given profile — say, a woman in her 30s, who has recently bought a pair of sneakers, and who reads articles about running.

“The exchange would then allow the advertiser or content maker to place their content within the exchange. That content could be a normal ad or — the interesting bit — a video, a Facebook wall post, news article, photo, gaming apps, and so on. (The latter types are lucrative, as people are more likely to engage with native ads than overt banners). So buyers trying to serve regular ads might find themselves bidding against a company trying to serve a video and a company trying to offer an app download,” O’Reilly continues.

In O’Reilly’s words, this could be “huge,” both in terms of what it could do to Facebook’s revenue stream, and what it might mean to Google as publishers move away from their products.

The reaction to the news ranges from giddy excitement to unease as social network users realize just how much information they’ve given to advertisers, and what that really means in terms of its impact on their online viewing experience.

Free and fair Internet? Perhaps on the surface, but it looks like the check is coming due for that free social lunch so many of us have been enjoying. It’s already obvious that ads are specifically geared toward our recent searches, and paid content is increasingly prevalent in whatever site we visit. The real question is…what happens if consumers decide they’ve had enough?