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How LiveRail Became Central to Facebook’s Ad Push

If U.S. immigration officials had been a little tougher back in 2008, Facebook’s new mobile advertising unit LiveRail might never have seen the light of day.

The firm, acquired last July for around $500 million, is intended to be a pillar of the social network’s new Advertising Technology unit, with a focus on mobile. It’s a key part of Facebook’s strategy to use its mass of user data to sell ads outside of the social network, on sites of publishers. Facebook announced LiveRail’s new role within the company at the F8 developers conference last week.

And serving as director of product for the ad tech unit is Mark Trefgarne, LiveRail’s British co-founder. Sometimes referred to as “Tref,” his new role within Facebook is looking for the next big thing in ads.

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When asked about LiveRail’s humble beginnings, Mr. Godfrey of Pond Ventures said he wasn’t aware that Mr. Trefgarne might have had to leave the country had he not received the initial investment in 2008. He was happy Mr. Trefgarne got his immigration visa. LiveRail was Pond’s biggest ever exit.

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Publishers using LiveRail will be able to offer advertisers the ability to leverage Facebook’s data to target specific demographics.