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Why Facebook and Baidu Are Becoming Fast Friends

Facebook’s own apps may be banned in China, but the company has a powerful tool to forge closer ties with large Chinese app publishers: its mobile ad network.

Apps such as China’s Baidu, Cheetah Mobile and APUS have quietly joined the largest sellers in Facebook’s network. Those apps—which range from mobile games like Piano Tiles to tools that help save battery life—are using the network to make money outside China.

Facebook’s systems help match Chinese apps to global advertisers that can choose to run their ads outside Facebook’s own apps. Typically, apps selling through the ad network get 70% of the revenue and Facebook gets 30%.  

And they say it is making meaningful money for them.

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Plus, Facebook recently took a step back from the display ads business when it pulled plans to use its identity data to sell ads to publishers running banner ads on non-Facebook websites. Audience Network, which was built inside of Facebook, runs ads that blend in unobtrusively with the app—and can target users who have provided their real identities to the social network.

Facebook didn’t return requests for comment.

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Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
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Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
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Ruchi Sanghvi
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The company’s winning over Chinese app publishers matters more for short- and medium-term revenue and puts it in another battle with Google.