How did Facebook make money before ads

Late September: Targeting Custom Audiences Ads and the Beginngin of Facebook Offers 

As devilish as they sound, so-called "custom audience" ads target groups of people from companies' email listserves. The same day it unveiled them, Facebook found an easy way to make money, charging companies to sell their "Offers" on the social network — kind of like Groupon deals, only slightly less annoying.

Yeah, but Did It Work? Not just yet. Offers are a "viral hit," says Facebook. And those custom ads are "promising," says TechCrunch's John Constine, who looked at numbers from both Facebook and advertisers. 

Later September: Turning Facebook into a Mall

Facebook launched Gifts, which let people buy real things on the social network. (Not just those weird virtual "gifts" it had back in the olden days.) That means that people can now buy their friends all sorts of things, such as Starbucks cards and teddy bears, for example. Also, at the end of September, in a minor effort to make it easier for people to pay for things (like its gifts), in certain countries the social network added one-step mobile payments. 

Yeah, but Did It Work? Slow down. Gifts just rolled out to all U.S. users the other day. But, TechCrunch's Constine, in a different post, suggests it could become a business worth between $127.5 million and $1.02 billion. That's just speculation, though. 

Later-Later September: Buying Your Offline Shopping Data

Partnering up with a company called Datalogix, Facebook got access to the real-life purchasing habits of a whole lot of people. The social network claims that it keeps everything anonymous, and so do the companies working with Datalogix.

Yeah, but Did It Work? Sort of. The deal itself won't make Facebook money, but it should win the company some leverage with advertisers. So far, it has only used the information for research on how its ads do or do not work, in an attempt to appease advertisers with clarity. Privacy advocates ... well, Facebook can never really appease them.

October: Turning Every User into an Advertiser

Facebook thinks some attention whores might pay to promote their own wall posts. For $7 a pop, you can push that important status update out to more news feeds. Of course, you have to live with yourself afterward, but at least the world read your stuff.

Yeah, but Did It Work? A little bit, at best. We were unable to find information on this. But if any people do it, it sounds like easy money to us. 

Mid-November: More Tracking!

The social network expanded "View Tags," the program that allows advertisers to track Facebookers across the Internet using cookies. The little graphic below from TechCrunch shows how it works, basically. Also around this time, Facebook began offering a new option for retailers to track purchases made by users who viewed their Facebook ads, as an easy way to give brands more information about whether their ads are really working.