TECH

Facebook's Biggest Advertisers: AT&T, Match.com, And A Scam Site?

Facebook is expanding the empire, Google-style. Estimates place the social networking giant's advertising revenue at $1.86 billion for 2010, an 86 percent increase from the year before.

Though Facebook is not yet anywhere close to infringing on Google's ad dominance (the search engine nets close to $2 billion each month), AdAge predicts that Facebook's ad revenue will more than double by the end of 2011, to over $4 billion.

The majority of advertisers are small or medium sized companies making use of Facebook's self-serve system--the same system that transformed Google into a goliath of online advertising. Sixty percent of Facebook's ad revenue, or $1.12 billion, came from smaller companies.

Facebook, which has over 650 million registered users, controls about 5 percent of the online ad market share, though it is expected to control over 8 percent by the end of 2011. AT&T and Match.com were the top two advertisers on the site, with Google itself ringing in at number five.

But as ReadWriteWeb points out, Facebook's number three advertiser is the bizarre scam site Make-my-baby.com, a strange page using the pretense of a virtual baby face customizable with a mustache or glasses, to gain access to browser settings and reset user homepages to Bing, the Microsoft search engine. According to ReadWriteWeb, the site prompts users to install a browser-plug in which then proceeds to change the default search and homepage to Bing. The affiliate company responsible, Zugo, then receives a piece of the revenue whenever users click through a search ad. Attempts to uninstall the toolbar redirect to a broken link.

UPDATE: ReadWriteWeb managed to get in contact with both Microsoft and Facebook: Facebook denied that the offending site was not an advertiser on the site at all, and Microsoft told RWW:

Distribution deals and affiliate programs are an important part of how all search engines introduce their product to customers. That said, we have been made aware of some practices from a specific publisher that are not compliant with the guidelines, best practices and principles put in place by Bing. As a result, the relationship with this publisher will be terminated.

Make-my-baby itself has apparently vanished off the Internet. Further response from comScore, the data company that AdAge initially based their report on, shows that AdAge misread the information they received, which showed make-my-baby as the third largest advertising on "social networking" generally, not Facebook specifically.