Facebook sees advertising prospects beyond games

MUNICH, Germany, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Facebook, recently valued at $50 billion, sees opportunities to extend its advertising business beyond the gaming sector, a company executive said on Monday.

Facebook is already challenging big Web businesses such as Google GOOG.O and Yahoo YHOO.O for users' time online and for advertising dollars, thanks to its audience of more than 500 million users and the information they share.

It has built a significant advertising business from social gaming, thanks to companies like Zynga who build games specifically for the Facebook platform, giving them a captive audience of enthusiasts.

“For a company like Zynga, Facebook is absolutely the most efficient advertising platform in the world,” business director Dan Rose told the DLD media conference in Munich on Monday.

“Games tend to be a leading indicator,” he said. “As more and more categories become social, certainly that’s an opportunity for us from an advertising perspective.

“We’re in the middle of a transformation. We’re moving from the information web to the social web. We’re moving from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends,” he said.

Rose cited music and video as other categories of social activities that could be next to present advertising opportunities for Facebook.

Asked whether media companies needed to move beyond integrating their sites with Facebook to experiment inside Facebook itself, he said: “Maybe, we’ll see.”

Rose said Facebook had no current plans to develop Facebook Credits, used to purchase virtual goods for use in Facebook games, for use in the real world.

“It is a virtual currency and it was designed specifically with virtual goods in mind,” he said.

According to documents circulated this month to potential investors by Goldman Sachs GS.N, the only source of financial data on the company so far, Facebook made net income of $355 million in the first nine months of 2010 on revenue of $1.2 billion. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Holmes)