SAN JOSE, Calif. — Facebook is relying on a fast-growing network of independent partners to build an advertising sector that some say may ultimately rival the network of companies that grew up in the past decade around Google’s search revolution.
Less than two years ago, there were widespread doubts about Facebook’s viability as an advertising business, despite the evidence of its runaway social popularity. But Facebook in 2011 has emerged as an ad powerhouse, leading to speculation that the company’s IPO could be worth more than $100 billion next year. Facebook has done that with fewer than two dozen in-house engineers working on its ad systems, sources say.
Facebook counts on independent partners like Redwood City-based Wildfire Interactive and London-based TBG Digital to build out its advertising “ecosystem.”
That network is growing rapidly, both in the number and individual size of companies, and represents a sector that some say may ultimately rival the search engine optimization and search engine marketing industry that developed around Google.