Facebook has announced plans to shut down the mobile web arm of its Facebook Audience Network. Thought to be a response to recent attempts by browser companies to reject cookies in mobile web browsers, publishers should be aware that starting April 11 2020, Audience Network will no longer fill any ad requests to their web and in-stream placements. 

“We make business decisions based on where we see growing demand from our partners, and that’s in other formats across mobile apps. We’re focusing our resources there moving forward,” revealed a Facebook spokesperson to Digiday. Publishers should note, however, that this move will not yet affect their ability to place Audience Network ads in their Instant Articles.

Launched in 2014, Audience Network offers advertisers placements in a variety of third-party apps. In 2016, an expansion was introduced that included mobile sites. This has helped it monetise publishers, who were paid over $1.5 billion in 2018. But, it’s unclear quite where the divide between web and app revenues lies. Sources suggest that the app segment drives a larger proportion by a significant margin. 

Google dominates web browser market share and the tech giant last month announced its intention to drop support for third-party cookies inside two years. That move is likely to negatively impact Facebook’s Audience Network. GDPR penalties have been leveled at certain European ad tech groups, placing real-time bidding under critical examination. Furthermore, Facebook CFO Dave Wehner expects a targeting “headwind” as the California Consumer Privacy Act is rolled out.

On the whole, the closure of Facebook Audience Network’s mobile web arm represents an interesting move on Facebook’s part. Mobile web is so susceptible to brand safety and viewability issues, and Google is undoubtedly the dominant force.