By John Letzing
Facebook Inc. (FB) is seeking to draw in more large advertisers to the social site with an exchange designed to help them more easily buy ad space targeted at particular users.
The company, based in Menlo Park, Calif., says it plans to make Facebook Exchange available in the next few weeks. The service will allow large companies that tend to spend heavily on Internet marketing to quickly deliver ads to Facebook users who have previously--and separately--visited the company's own site.
That means that an Internet user perusing a retail site for new washing machine, for example, could later be shown a washing machine ad while using Facebook.
A Facebook spokesman said in a statement that the exchange "means that advertisers can deliver more relevant advertising in a timely manner at a scale not possible before."
Facebook went public in a troubled IPO last month, and has faced tough questions about its ability to satisfy large advertisers interested in tapping into the popular site's more than 900 million users.
While large firms have long been able to advertise on Facebook, they have also had the option of simply creating a presence on the site free of charge. The forthcoming exchange is therefore designed to make buying advertising on the site easier, and more effective.
The Facebook exchange is not entirely novel. Google Inc. (GOOG) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), for example, offer exchanges that let advertisers bid in real time for targeted advertising.
The new Facebook exchange will not enable firms to buy mobile advertising. The company has widely been seen as lagging behind in terms of pulling in advertising revenue via its fast-growing audience on mobile devices.
The space available in the exchange is used for the small display ads on the borders of a user's Facebook page on a desktop computer, while Facebook currently only offers its "sponsored stories" advertising service--which lets users promote different brands to one another--on mobile devices.
Facebook shares closed Wednesday down slightly at $27.27. The shares were initially priced at $38 in the company's IPO nearly one month ago.
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