2 min read

Facebook Audience Network for Mobile Web - One publisher's cautionary tale

As a hobbyist developer who enjoys working on side projects for fun, it's always exciting when one of those projects takes off. One such project, which I launched in 2015, was a webapp for managing Facebook pages. By late 2016 it had ballooned into a decently popular site, with about 225K unique visitors a month and almost 800K page views a month. Given the site's traffic and continued growth, it made sense to try and monetize it. Initially I started out with AdSense, but given the site's tight integration with Facebook, I decided to try out Facebook Audience Network instead, a publishing platform for mobile apps as well as mobile web. Compared to AdSense, I saw a spectacular jump in revenue (think +100%).

Fast forward to today. Early this morning, I received a developer alert in my Facebook App Dashboard, as well as by email, informing me that my domain had been suddenly "unapproved" for Audience Network:

Email screenshot

Needless to say, I wouldn't be writing this if it were clear that my app was violating any of Audience Network's policies. In any case, the vague nature of the message makes it impossible to figure out what, if any policy violations occurred.

Facebook Audience Network for Mobile web is technically still a beta product, and of course Facebook is free to do what they want and drop ad publishers at their leisure. Nevertheless, to do so suddenly and without a specific reason, especially after several months of good standing makes for a terrible user experience.

Back to AdSense.

Update 1 (11/24/2016): I received another Developert Alert from Facebook informing me that my domain was approved and that I was "ready to start making money with Audience Network". Yay, I guess? The Thanksgiving Day timing of this email leads me to believe that their screening processes are entirely automated and that there may ultimately be no rhyme or reason why my domain happened to get unapproved and then reapproved.

**Update 2 (11/25/2016): After a few days with AdSense I am now making just as much as I did with Facebook Audience Network. Sounds like it might not be a bad idea to stick with Google for a while longer...