ImageIs Facebook planning to acquire an ad agency in the near future? You might think so after reading this analysis of Facebook's new privac... sorry... "data use" policy from law firm BakerHostetler. Specifically, this:

"The significant addition to this Policy is an entirely new provision that, for the first time, permits Facebook to engage in unlimited sharing of your personal information with ‘affiliates’ with the following language:

Affiliates

We may share information we receive with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that Facebook is part of, or that become part of that group (often these companies are called affiliates). Likewise, our affiliates may share information with us as well. We and our affiliates may use shared information to help provide, understand, and improve our services and their own services.

Legally, an affiliate could include a company in which Facebook owns a minority interest. Facebook has not announced any new acquisitions, and there is no reason to believe that one is planned for the immediate future. But it is certainly plausible that this Proposed Policy is intended to pave the way for: (i) taking an ownership interest in advertising agency and (ii) immediately commencing complete sharing of Facebook data with that advertising agency."

And why is this such a good idea? Again from BakerHostetler:

"Given how much Facebook knows about its users, such an agency could be much more effective than current online ad networks which serve advertisements based upon your behavior on the Internet (which they deduce through cookies placed on your browser by websites you’ve visited and advertisments you’ve clicked)."

We first read about Facebook's latest advertising initiative on Business Insider, in a piece by Nicholas Carlson titled Facebook Is Quietly Ramping Up A Product That 'Kills Us,' Says Yahoo Source. The article describes a new offering for marketers being built by Facebook:

"Instead of looking at unreliable clicks, surveys, and sales trends, marketers can look at that report and do a simple return-on-investment calculation based on how many people saw the ad and how many of those people went out and bought the product advertised.

Our source says this new Facebook product ‘closes the loop’ on brand advertising in a way that no site besides Facebook is able."

So is this just a question of Facebook's definition of affiliate, an oblique reference to Instagram, or one more sign of a potential acquisition on the horizon? Either way, interesting news in the ever-competitive landscape of online advertising.

What say you?