There's still money to be made in Facebook's vendor ecosystem. Ampush, a preferred marketing developer that supports data-driven advertising focused on Facebook's News Feed, says its 2013 media revenue will grow to $70 million, up from $15 million last year. Headcount has more than doubled since December 2012, to 90.
Ampush is an example of a PMD that has repositioned to match Facebook's shifting sands. One year ago it was chasing something CEO and co-founder Jesse Pujji called "referred intent." Pujji told AdExchanger in a 2012 interview, "Referred intent is where your friend or cousin might suggest a new pair of shoes or an insurance agent. There's a social element to it."
But Facebook has since deemphasized targeting based on social connections, preferring instead to siphon data from the wider Internet and from its advertisers' own data sets. Examples include Facebook Exchange, the Custom Audiences CRM match program, lookalike modeling and Partner Categories third-party segments. A recent, controversial Forrester report accuses Facebook of failing marketers by giving up on this "affinity engine" in favor of the easy data money.
"The world has really changed quite a bit," Pujji says today. And so "referred intent" has taken a back seat. "It's not as big a part of our positioning. It's more about how do you [leverage] these pillars -- one being authentic identity, two being News Feed and in-stream distribution?"
He added, "The concept of referred intent was … how do you infuse those things into the product and how do you find things that will be more engaged, more viral? How do you optimize to get more likes and shares? We still definitely do that, but it's almost inherent to the product."
Ampush has doubled its customers since last year (though from what baseline it didn't say). Its clients include MasterCard, Rdio and HotelTonight. Earlier this year it was granted "strategic PMD" status, which drove significant new business. Facebook has indicated the sPMD appellation is usually reserved for companies with holistic knowledge of its ad products and the ability to drive spend.
As for the wider PMD scrum, Pujji said, "It may not be the land grab it was two years ago. I think most clients are still trying to figure it out, and still open to working with other platforms. There are a lot of people in the space. One way or another, you're going to see consolidation."
Ampush does not connect directly to Facebook Exchange, but has a partnership with AdRoll to support retargeting campaigns on the site.
An aside: Earlier this month Ampush sold a performance network called Actions, which was focused on the education vertical. Proceeds from that sale are excluded from its $70 million run rate.
(Aside to the aside: Turns out Ampush was not the only digital ad company to sell an education-focused performance network. Adchemy sold one to XL Marketing last week, announcing it on the divestiture on the very same day. And if that's not confusing enough, Adchemy's divested unit was also called Actions.)