When you’re dealing with 1 billion people’s personal info, security is critical. But Facebook didn’t want to sacrifice speed. That’s why it spent the last two years making infrastructure improvements so that its which starts this week will “slow down connections only slightly.” People will be able to opt-out of HTTPS for maximum speed if that’s how they roll.
Facebook has long employed HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) to protect users when they submit their username and password to login. HTTPS prevents man-in-the-middle attacks and eavesdropping.
In January 2011, though, it started to have all their Facebook browsing At the time it warned “Encrypted pages take longer to load, so you may notice that Facebook is slower using HTTPS.”
Still, Facebook said that “We hope to offer HTTPS as a default whenever you are using Facebook sometime in the future.” Flash forward nearly two years to today, and its ready to fulfill that burning desire for security. A from a few days ago announced “this week, we’re starting to roll out HTTPS for all North America users and will be soon rolling out to the rest of the world.”
I immediately wondered if that would make loading the news feed or peeping photos more sluggish. So I spoke with Facebook’s security policy manager Frederic Wolens to see what would happen to site speed, and here’s what he told me:
“It is far from a simple task to build out this capability for the more than a billion people that use the site and retain the stability & speed we expect, but we are making progress daily towards this end. This may slow down connections only slightly, but we have deployed significant performance enhancements to our load balancing infrastructure to mitigate most of the impact of moving to HTTPS, and will be continuing this work as we deploy this feature.”
So yes, there will be a slight slow down. Facebook’s HTTPS is going to be a lot faster than it could have been thanks to engineers who rolled up their sleeves, but we’ll be monitoring for complaints just to make sure this is the case. For reference, Google moved Gmail to HTTPS in January 2010.
People who aren’t too concerned with their security might not be too excited about getting switched to HTTPS. And if they insist their connection is secure and wants to browse Facebook as fast as possible, the company confirmed to me that they’ll have the option to opt out of HTTPS through their Account Security settings.
But protecting people who use the default settings is why this is an admirable decision by Facebook. It’s priority is security. It might not be as sexy as blazing speed, but a hacked user is an unhappy user. Lots of people access Facebook from public wi-fi and public computers. Persistent HTTPS makes sure they’re not getting snooped on.
Facebook could have kept HTTPS as opt in. Faster browsing leads to less frustration, longer session lengths, and more ad views. Unfortunately, the people who are the least security savvy and therefore most vulnerable are probably the least likely to voluntarily enable HTTPS.
Personal info-driven business models like Facebook’s are built on trust. It needs users to feel secure enough to keep donating their data, and that’s why this little green lock could turn into greenbacks over time.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg are discussing a potential partnership, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.
The story is based on anonymous sources who seem primarily to be “Yahoo insiders.” It’s vague on the details of the partnership, perhaps because those details are still being worked out, but “board members expect the talks to lead to much more substantial collaboration based around web-based search.”
If the two companies did reach a deal, how significant would it be? The Telegraph argues that this could “reorder the hierarchy of the world’s biggest technology companies,” giving Yahoo a big selling point in its efforts to win over both web searchers and engineers, while also making Facebook more useful for its members.
That might just be wishful thinking on Yahoo’s part — the social network’s partnership with Microsoft doesn’t seem to have provided a significant lift to Bing. On the other hand, this could provide Facebook an opportunity to take a different approach to search integration.
If nothing else, these discussions suggest that the relationship between Facebook and Yahoo have thawed after their patent dispute earlier this year, which was settled in July.
I’ve emailed Facebook and Yahoo for comment and will update if I hear back.
Update: A Yahoo spokesperson declined to comment on the report. Meanwhile, AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher writes that her sources “scoffed about such a deal.”
Editor’s note: Jay Jamison is a Partner at BlueRun Ventures and is based in Menlo Park. He focuses on early stage mobile, consumer and enterprise opportunities, and he serves on the boards of AppCentral (acquired by Good Technology), AppRedeem, Foodspotting, and Thumb. You can follow him on his blog and on .
In August, I wrote about how the Mobile Era was upon us and how the Mobile Wave was impacting Facebook and Zynga. I wrote about how mobile represented a big shift, and the giants of the social web needed to show that they could jump onto this wave or risk being disrupted.
Wall Street is basically demanding big public tech companies to answer the question, “How mobile can you go?” And based on a read of the big tech companies’ recent Q3 earnings reports, they all got the memo. Here’s my take on their mobile strategies.Facebook
First up, Facebook had a busy quarter, having welcomed its billionth member. Where was mobile in Facebook’s earnings announcement? At the very top, Facebook co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was on mobile about 10 seconds in to his remarks. And his prioritization and story was so clear, simple and strong that any fifth grader could understand it, let alone Wall Street analysts. To summarize his pitch, mobile enables Facebook to reach way more people. Mobile Facebook users open Facebook more frequently—mobile users are 70 percent likely to open Facebook on a given day, versus 40 percent if you’re a PC-only Facebook user. And with the recent launch of Facebook’s native iOS app, Zuckerberg showed that time and engagement on mobile Facebook was increasing.
More users, more engagement, more money. Simple. On top of that, they’ve ditched HTML5 for a native iOS app that rocks. The Instagram acquisition has closed (and quadrupled users to >100 million), and has more traffic than Twitter on mobile in the U.S.Google
With nearly $57 billion in current assets on its balance sheet, a horde as large as Apple’s and nearing Microsoft’s, Google is, in poker parlance, one of the big stacks, sitting behind a mountain of chips. And with a big wall of chips in poker, there are basically two strategies. One, hang back, play safe, and let weaker players beat themselves up. Or two, get even more aggressive, making big, audacious bets that, if wrong, could hurt but also raise the bar on the competition. Google’s clearly chosen the aggressive route. Purchase Motorola Mobility. Drive Android to unit share leadership. And waiting in the wings, Google Glass, which could well be the breakthrough product of this decade.
Wall Street dinged Google’s most recent announcement, fretting about the continuing integration challenge of Motorola Mobility and worrying about the lower per-unit economics of Google’s mobile ad revenue. I’m more bullish long-term. Integrating a hardware company like Motorola Mobility into an Internet company like Google is a big challenge. Totally different cultures, timelines, etc., but at the end of the day, I don’t see the integration as make or break.
Monetizing mobile ad revenue is, however, make or break. And getting to an $8 billion run rate on mobile alone (nearly double of Yahoo!’s entire revenue in 2011), shows that Google knows a bit about monetizing mobile. More broadly, with the assets it has in place — Android, Chrome, maps, its ad products, etc. — Google is positioned well. While it might take some time to bring per-unit economics on mobile in line with the web, with the elements of location, real-time, always on/always connected nature of mobile, I’m bullish on Google in our mobile future.Microsoft
And what’d Microsoft have to say about its mobile future in its earnings announcements last week? With the coordinated launches of the Windows 8 platform (for PCs and tablets), Windows Phone 8, and the new Microsoft Surface, it’s getting into the game in a manner that suits its strength as the central point of the PC ecosystem. Microsoft’s advantage has always been its broad ecosystem — from chipset manufacturers (Intel, AMD), hardware OEMs and peripheral makers to software developers — that could create a vast array of product offerings and price points. A PC on every desk and in every home, with a broad selection of printers, scanners, joysticks, and software that usually basically work. And this worked great, until consumers started getting way more mobile, and smartphones and tablets exploded onto the scene.
As a former owner of both an HP-based PocketPC from Microsoft in the late 90s and an HP-based Microsoft Windows Tablet 10 years ago, I’m perplexed regarding where Microsoft finds itself in mobile today. It’s not like it didn’t try to get there 10 years ago. It did. The offerings just weren’t good enough.
And that’s really the key question this time around: Are the offerings good enough? Despite the very cool look and feel of Metro, XBOX Music, etc, it’s too soon to call the future one way or another here. Will consumers adopt en mass? Will developers look to and start developing against Windows 8? Will the vast bulk of the profit pool of laptops, tablets and mobile continue to get hoovered up by Apple, Google, and Amazon? No wonder Microsoft called Windows 8 the most important launch since Windows 95!Amazon
If the always amazing, always innovative ecommerce leader were a sports team, I’d compare it to the New England Patriots. Both are innovative, consistent, and winners. And listening to an Amazon earnings call is like listening to a press conference of New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Bellicheck. Both are great at responding to questions with answers that don’t really say anything concrete about how things are going. When asked on the earnings call about how the Kindles are selling, Amazon SVP & CFO, Tom Szutak basically says, yep, we’re selling a lot of them, and yep, users are consuming content through them. That’s Classic Bellicheck.
Similar to Apple, Amazon understood very early and executed on great bets that the shift to mobile represented a great opportunity for commerce. For Amazon, these Kindles are like mini checkout terminals for its massive digital storefront. Cha-ching. So remaining focused on driving unit share of the Kindle devices and the storefront is a great offensive strategy.Apple
With a market cap as large as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google combined, Apple is the super heavyweight of the bunch. The initial reaction on Apple’s earnings announcement is that growth is slowing and there’s concern around cannibalization of the iPad with the iPad Mini. Also there was hand-wringing on declining gross margins.
I’m not worried about this stuff. If I were an Apple exec, I’d be laser focused on how to continue to drive market share in tablets for a few reasons. First, the tablet market continues to explode. Indeed, in a recent presentation, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers general partner Mary Meeker forecast Q2 2013 as the date when the installed base of smartphones plus tablets will surpass the installed base of PCs. Second, tablets will continue to be great consumption devices, with users purchasing books, movies, music, TV shows, apps, and all kinds of stuff that Apple provides seamlessly and profitably. So Apple has a lot of strategic interest in continuing to drive market share leadership in this category, even at the expense of short-term gross margin pressure.
Critics may argue that if there were any clouds on Apple’s very broad, cash-rich horizons, it’d be the question of the company’s next big thing — a TV perhaps? While this critique may sound too “what have you done for me lately?” keep in mind this industry moves fast. Apple owned the last decade, with the iPod/iTunes, the iPhone, and the iPad. But winning last decade doesn’t necessarily assure anything (just ask RIM). Given the time Apple spent in the wilderness, it very likely understands this better than most.
Apple is working on a next big innovation. They’re just keeping it a secret.Yahoo
Trying to get out of the wilderness is Yahoo, which stunned the tech world with the hiring of Marissa Mayer as CEO. If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging. Hire Mayer.
Yahoo’s Q3 earnings call was notable as the first for Mayer in the CEO chair. A slight beat of expectations led to a nice bump in the stock. And listening to Mayer, it’s pretty clear that she’s got a crisp idea of the strategy and execution Yahoo needs. But she also realizes that job No. 1, namely getting the leadership, culture and team set up for success at Yahoo, has to be her core focus. The leadership vacuum and churn that preceded here had an impact.
Mayer has an extraordinary track record as a product executive. In reading her remarks in full, she sees opportunity at Yahoo around search, mobile and elsewhere. Her pointing out that Yahoo has 76 different applications on iOS and Android underscores this. I thought this comment was also spot on:
As the world becomes increasingly mobile, the way we all consume content has dramatically shifted. Interestingly, when you look at the most frequent uses of smartphones, they include checking the weather, checking sports scores, checking stock quotes and other financial information, watching videos, sharing photos, getting the latest news and playing games. Does that sound like any particular company that you know?
So Mayer clearly gets mobile and the prioritization at Yahoo here is likely high. When you read her comments more broadly, however, you do realize that she’s still up to her arms in terms of getting the culture and the team right. She points out in her comments that in business the best teams win. Great start. There is till work to do. Stay tuned.Investor Scorecard
Here is how I would score if I were going to invest purely based on these companies’ mobile strategies:
Buy: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple; wait and see: Microsoft, Yahoo. As to what it means for the mobile-centric startup community:
The war for mobile talent will continue. Mobile developers are in crazy demand these days. With the ever-increasing focus on mobile by all these companies, this war will continue. I’d expect that we’ll continue to see these large public companies being active in M&A activities, especially to bolster their mobile talent.
Leveraging native across different platforms is a huge plus. Facebook walked away from HTML5 and released an awesome iOS app, with Android coming. Although there is tremendous potential and excitement around HTML5, it seems crazy to not follow Facebook’s lead. User expectation on the quality and responsiveness of mobile apps really demands that you go native. With the increasing share we’re seeing in Android (and with the growth of Kindle), mobile companies that can crank out and innovate across iOS and Android have a lot of potential.
Anticipate growing opportunity in tablets. Apple CEO Tim Cook is on the record consistently and over time with the vision that tablets will overtake PCs. And we’re going to see an explosion of devices, on iOS, Android and Windows. As tablets go more and more mainstream, I’d anticipate opportunities for new disrupters to enter, leveraging the browsing and discovery experience available there. There’ve been great generation 1 tablet-centric apps—Flipboard, Pulse, and other emerging companies like Pickie. But I think we’re only just getting started here.
Stay tuned for more big moves by the big players. It was once unthinkable for Microsoft to build its own PC-hardware; now it has the Surface. Similarly, it was hard to visualize Google choosing to buy Motorola Mobility to crank out mobile devices. Who knows what’s next? There’ve been rumors of Amazon planning a smartphone and Apple releasing a mind-blowing next-gen television. I forecast that this will be an era of big steps by big players. No one can really afford to sit back.
Thrilling times indeed.
Two years ago I wrote a post entitled “Can Anything Stop The Facebook Juggernaut?” in which I marvelled at the fact that Facebook was then worth a whopping $35 billion, according to Second Market. Today, after its much-touted stock price “collapse,” the company is worth roughly . It’s a strange world when a market-value increase of $16 billion/~45 percent over a two-year period is somehow perceived as a crisis.
My answer then to that post’s titular question was a grudging no. (My assessment of Facebook as “relentlessly mediocre” remains unchanged today.) Which remains true, in the short term. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about the medium and long term — by which I mean 5-10 years and 15-30 years from now; the tech world changes so quickly that anything beyond that is sheer guesswork — and trying to imagine when, how, and if Facebook will wither away.
Warren Buffet always advises investors to buy a company with “moats” defending them from competitors, and Facebook has one of the deepest and most dragon-laden moats in the world. First, of course, there’s the network effect; with a billion active users, everyone goes there because that’s where everyone is. (Of course, there are individuals and subcultures who avoid FB — perhaps quoting Yogi Berra, “Nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded” — but whether they like it or not, they’re a tiny minority among the networked of the world.)
Second, their Open Graph strategy means that Facebook isn’t just Facebook; they’re woven into the bones, and in some cases arguably the DNA, of millions of other apps and web sites. Every “Log In with Facebook,” “Share to Facebook,” and “Like” button across the Web and within every app store is Facebook territory. They don’t just own all the end users: Developers, executives, marketers, startups — they all want access to the Facebook empire, which means, to a considerable extent, becoming part of the Facebook empire.
Third, they’ve already seen off the most immediate threat, that of a direct assault by their most dangerous competitor. I refer of course to Google+. Which isn’t dead, but could hardly be described as thriving. Knee-jerk Google defenders tend to say things like “Google+ can’t possibly fail, it’s just a social layer on top of Google,” which may be true but it’s also nonsense. G+ was clearly intended as a social network that would supersede Facebook as the place where most people go to share their lives and thoughts with friends and followers, and it failed at that.
Finally, they seem to be incredibly paranoid, which is a good thing. Consider Intel, arguably the longest-lived successful company in the history of technology. That’s at least in part because of Andy Grove’s motto, “Only the paranoid survive.” I strongly suspect Facebook spent more than half a billion dollars to buy Instagram — a company with 12 employees! — because they’ve already imagined one way that they could die.
I call it “Creeping Defection.” If all their users also join another network, even one that focuses on a niche, then that competing network could conceivably grow into a full-fledged social network, and Facebook’s users might find themselves spending less and less time on Facebook itself. In the end, they would leave Facebook without ever really consciously intending to do so. That was Google’s hope, but unfortunately for them, G+ never really took off. Instagram seemed to be on that kind of trajectory, so they had to be dealt with. Just in case.
This leaves, I think, only three ways that Facebook’s dominance could be shaken.
The first is in some ways the most obvious, but also, to my mind, the most unlikely: that their users turn away. There’s no shortage of reasons propounded by the anti-Facebook crowd. Because they gnaw away at their users’ privacy more and more with every passing year. Because they’ve sold their soul to advertisers. Because they’re anti-pseudonym and pro-censorship. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
The sad truth, though, is whether they’re frogs in a slow-boiling pot of heavy-handed, anti-privacy water or whether it’s only Internet activists who think that these sorts of things really matter on social networks, most users really don’t care. Absent some kind of melodramatic revelation that Facebook is selling its data to al-Qaeda, or that Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are really Kang and Kodos from The Simpsons, Facebook user revolts will be temporary and limited as long as Facebook backs off of its crusade for “more sharing!” when necessary. They always do — only to relaunch them some years later, of course, when their users are ready.
The next possible doom is more plausible — and actually testable — but the data required is data that only Facebook has, and last I checked, they aren’t sharing. It’s possible, though, that social networking is something that people get bored of; that after the first few years of watching your friends share memes and cat pictures, it becomes more chore than joy, and people find themselves drifting away to more tangible pursuits. Facebook knows the answer to this one; they can tell if there’s a negative correlation between how long someone’s been a Facebook user and how often they visit and interact.
If so, then it’s possible that Facebook use might wither away as people do grow bored of it. Maybe they’d potentially be driven away by desperate Facebook attempts to bring them back. Or maybe a few competitors might attack the social network’s last line of defense: its de facto status as one’s defining online ID. This attack might come from, say, Apple, Google, Mozilla and Microsoft forming an ID service that works across Android, iOS, Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE. Unlikely, I know, but not impossible.
One attack I don’t think is possible is that long-held dream of Internet activists: a federated social-networking model, where your identity and your data can live at the provider of your choice, communicating with other providers through a common protocol. As an example, imagine if Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ all played nicely with each other, so you could open one and see anything/everything shared on the other two. But federated protocols with many players, by their very nature, innovate more slowly than authoritarian central sites. (To an extent that’s why Twitter has clamped down on its once-thriving ecosystem of Twitter clients.) Such a federated model would never catch up.
So the only thing that I think will actually kill Facebook, in the end, is the same thing that’s slowly killing Microsoft today: a platform shift. Not the shift to mobile; they’re riding that one out nicely. The next platform shift. When it happens, maybe Facebook’s death spasms will finally trigger a long-awaited spate of innovation and creativity from them, as seems to have happened in Redmond of late. If I were a betting man I’d put my money on wearable computing as the platform of the future — something like Google Glass plus Kinect, bearing in mind that each of those is but the Altair II of its field, and I’m talking about their descendants a decade or more hence.
I doubt Facebook will survive that shift; but at the same time, it’s hard to imagine something else replacing it between now and then. The world is yours for a decade, Mark Zuckerberg. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Image credit: Thos Ballantyne, .
Facebook shares stats about users who said they voted – More than 9 million Americans used Facebook to this year, according to a by the Facebook Data Science team. Of that, 46.5 percent of “I’m voting messages came from a mobile device. The majority of people age 22-38 shared their vote on a mobile device. This was the first year that Facebook included the prompt to share voting stories via mobile. The data science team also shared correlations between users who Like certain pages and their likelihood of declaring they voted on Facebook.
Andreessen Horowitz sells Facebook shares from Instagram deal - Andreessen Horowitz sold about 4.6 million shares of Facebook this week, but most of these shares were acquired in the acquisition of Instagram. The firm continues to hold the 3.9 million Facebook shares that it invested directly in the social network. Marc Andreessen himself sold some share to cover personal tax liability. A spokesperson from Andreessen Horowitz told the press, “we believe in the longterm value of the company.”
Facebook and partners collaborate on social jobs app – The Social Jobs Partnership — which includes Facebook, the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, DirectEmployers Association, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies — launched a Social Jobs Application . Through the , recruiters can share job listings and users can search them.
Facebook added more than two dozen new positions to its this week, including a number of openings on the user operations, measurement, recruiting and sales teams.
The company added a listing for an Instagram Safety Lead to “strengthen safety polices and practices” for the mobile photo sharing network Facebook acquired this year. The job description notes:
“Instagram has grown to over 100 million registered users in two years. As more and more people around the world join Instagram, it’s more important than ever to make sure systems and policies are in place to keep users safe on the service.”New listings added to Facebook’s :
- Technical Program Manager, Mobile (Seattle)
- Developer Operations, Security (Menlo Park)
- Accounting Manager – Infrastructure (Menlo Park)
- Financial Analyst, Infrastructure and Technology (Menlo Park)
- Administrative Assistant, Ads Engineering (Menlo Park)
- Compliance Analyst (Dublin)
- Policy Communications (Washington)
- HR Specialist (Contractor) (São Paulo)
- Immigration Legal Assistant (Menlo Park)
- Research Participant Recruiter (Menlo Park)
- Critical Facility Technician (Forest City)
- Business Analyst, User Operations (Dublin)
- Instagram Safety Lead (Menlo Park)
- Release Specialist, User Operations (Menlo Park)
- Account Manager (Italy) (Milan)
- Account Manager, Australia (Sydney) (Sydney)
- Account Manager, Global Marketing Solutions (Austin)
- Account Specialist, Global Marketing Solutions (Austin)
- Media Solutions, French (Dublin)
- Media Solutions (Toronto)
- Account Manager, French (Dublin)
- Manager, Mid Market Sales, UK & Ireland (Dublin)
- Account Manager, DSO (Delhi) (Hyderabad)
- Client Partner, Financial Services (Toronto)
- Manager, Global Marketing Solutions (Washington)
- Associate, Vertical Measurement – MPK (Menlo Park)
- Associate, Vertical Measurement – NY (New York)
Who else is hiring? The Inside Network Job Board presents a survey of current openings at leading companies in the industry.
Facebook removed two dozen job listings from its this week, likely after making hires in the areas of engineering, recruiting, communications, measurement and others.Prior listings removed from Facebook’s :
- Partner Engineer, Mobile Games (Menlo Park)
- Partner Engineer, Payments – Games (Menlo Park)
- Global Fixed Assets Manager (Menlo Park)
- Manager, Physical Security (Menlo Park)
- Coordinator Program Lead (Menlo Park)
- Recruiting Coordinator – Fixed Term Employment (UR) (Menlo Park)
- Recruiting Coordinator — Fixed Term Employment (Eng) (Menlo Park)
- Recruiting Coordinator — Fixed Term Employment (Eng) (Menlo Park)
- Recruiting Coordinator — Fixed Term Employment (IT) (Menlo Park)
- Recruiting Programs Coordinator – Fixed Term Employment (New York)
- Content Strategist, Advertiser Products (Seattle)
- UX Researcher (Seattle)
- Marketing Communications Manager Asia Pacific (Singapore) (Singapore)
- PMD Marketing Communications Manager (New York – Menlo Park)
- Analyst, Global Sales Reporting (Hyderabad)
- Analyst, Platform Operations, Chinese (Dublin)
- Manager, User Operations (Menlo Park)
- Project Manager, Launches (Menlo Park)
- Account Manager, Global Marketing Solutions (Menlo Park)
- German Partner Manager, Preferred Marketing Developer Program (Dublin) (Dublin)
- Analyst, Partner Measurement – NY (New York)
- Lead, Partner Measurement – MPK (Menlo Park)
- Lead, Partner Measurement – NY (New York)
- Lead, Partner Measurement (Chicago)
Who else is hiring? The Inside Network Job Board presents a survey of current openings at leading companies in the industry.
Palarium’s canvas game Stormfall: Age of War led our list of emerging Facebook applications by monthly active users this week with 340 percent gain. The mid-core strategy game launched on Nov. 1.
We define emerging applications as those that ended with between 100,000 and 1 million MAU in the past week. This week’s top apps grew between 120,000 and 41,000 MAU, based on AppData, our data tracking service covering traffic growth for apps on Facebook.
Top Gainers This WeekName MAU Gain Gain % 1. Stormfall: Age of War 660,000 +510,000 + 340% 2. Dein Weihnachtsbaum 330,000 +220,000 + 200% 3. GiveMeFootball 530,000 +150,000 + 39% 4. WeChat 980,000 +150,000 + 18% 5. Oferece uma rosa 760,000 +140,000 + 23% 6. DragonBound 900,000 +140,000 + 18% 7. Eldorado – Slot Machines 150,000 +130,000 + 650% 8. Madden NFL 13 Social 340,000 +130,000 + 62% 9. Geo Challenge 160,000 +120,000 + 300% 10. País do Baseado 230,000 +120,000 + 109% 11. Vagalume Playlists 360,000 +120,000 + 50% 12. Best Friends 690,000 +120,000 + 21% 13. Pagemodo Custom Welcome Tab 930,000 +120,000 + 15% 14. Movember 460,000 +100,000 + 28% 15. Easypromos 930,000 +100,000 + 12% 16. The Voice Live – Vote 180,000 +90,000 + 100% 17. Banner de perfil en espagnol 290,000 +90,000 + 45% 18. MapMyRun 420,000 +90,000 + 27% 19. Offerpop 620,000 +90,000 + 17% 20. Fab 750,000 +90,000 + 14%
No. 2 Dein Weihnachtsbaum is a German version of the virtual Christmas tree app that made our overall top growing list . No. 3 GiveMeFootball is a social reading app for a U.K. site about soccer. No. 4 WeChat is a mobile messaging app that users can connect with Facebook to find their friends.
No. 8 Madden NFL 13 Social is a mobile and canvas-based game by EA Sports. The asynchronous gameplay allows players to challenge friends to a game on their iPad, play a few drives on Facebook, then continue the game on the iPhone.
No. 14 Movember is the official website of the Movember movement, which encourages men to raise awareness for men’s health by growing mustaches. This year the site allows men to register using their Facebook account.
No. 16 The Voice Live – Vote is the official NBC.com site for The Voice where viewers can vote for their favorite contestants.
Fitness tracking app MapMyRun came in at No. 18. A number of page tab applications like No. 13 Pagemodo Custom Welcome Tab, No. 15 Easypromos and No. 19 Offerpop rounded out the list, and e-commerce app Fab took the No. 20 spot.
All data in this post comes from our traffic tracking service, AppData. Stay tuned next week for our look at the top weekly gainers by monthly active users on Monday, the top weekly gainers by daily active users on Wednesday, and the top emerging apps on Friday.
Yesterday, I spent some time with the folks who bring games to life on Facebook. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there are a lot of people who like to hang out on the social network and play turn-based games. Sure, it can get annoying, with all of the notifications and requests, but Facebook is apparently trying to do something more than annoy you. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
Recently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that games weren’t doing as well as he’d like on the platform, but all hands are on deck to change that.
What Facebook thinks is that everyone is a “gamer” given the right people are involved with the right game. Be it a word game or an in-depth one like Zynga’s Ville’s that make me want to kick someone’s pig, The idea of turning everyone into a gamer isn’t new, Nintendo has been doing this for years and years. In fact, my Mom and Stepdad are pretty darn good at Wii Bowling. Really good, actually. More than 251M people are playing games on Facebook each month, which is a 10% growth since last year. Currently there are 130 games with more than 1M monthly active players each. Take that, consoles.
During a game developer’s meetup in its headquarters in Menlo Park, Facebook discussed some of the latest and greatest stats and trends that will help incentivize and excite folks to crank out new types of games, in different genres, to get Facebook’s social juice. It was quite an impressive turnout, and after the talks, I got to sit down with a few very key members of the Games team.
Going into Facebook, I let them know that I’m not a gamer. I don’t really have the time or the attention span to play FarmVille. In fact, I find it quite annoying. Knowing that, a lot of the questions that I asked had to do with how Facebook can turn people who don’t consider themselves into gamers as people who casually play a social game now and then.
Clearly, this is something Facebook is working very hard on.
Sean Ryan, Director of Games Partnerships at Facebook, used to work at Sega, News Corp Games and started a few small companies focusing on virtual world categories of games. The man has done this his whole career, and we talked about how Facebook is adopting that legacy approach to games as well as starting over with its own new fresh approach.We play a lot of games
Yes, the Facebook Games team is definitely ingrained in the gaming culture, playing tons of games in many different genres. The team is distributed, Ryan tells me, holding these sessions with developers in Moscow, Tel Aviv, Singapore and Dublin. They get around.
How do you get a gig working with Facebook Games? Simple, Ryan explains:
The key thing is do you love to play games? The metric we follow is that people play 10 different games each week to see what’s new and hot. Different people are matched up with genres based on their interests. It’s fun but they’re not always good games, they “different” games. We’re not here to tell developers how to build the games, but we help them with how to fit in the social layers and put in monetization. Also to get feedback on how we can improve our platform.
Facebook has shifted from being a wild west for games to a more structured source for things that might interest you. One big way was with the App Center, a place where people can go to browse games, read reviews and find out which ones their friends are playing. For me, those are the only games I end up trying…the ones they vouch for, and don’t obsessively play. I asked Ryan about the App Center, and Facebook’s reasoning for it:
App center came from our core game developers. Our users don’t like to share as much in their feed, so we thought about how can people help developers’ games get found? Strategy games and hardcore games fit a very small niche, people that know what they’re looking for, but we needed to help them on how discover them better. App Center has high quality referrals, basic block and tackle stuff. We want to enable all types of games.
All types of games, he mentions. That means that Zynga shouldn’t own the social network gaming penetration like it has for the past few years. I personally find all of Zynga’s games to be annoying and similar to that of a shady casino. The company isn’t shy about trying to hook you for life until all you do is water your virtual flowers. But there are other games. The games that excite me are ones I can collaboratively tinker around with when I have a few moments, within groups of my friends.
That’s why Facebook recently announced a new feature for developers to integrate into games, the ability to set up and maintain Facebook Groups for all different sorts of genres. Ryan explains:
Games with friends are great for groups, raids and such. The classic Warcraft clans have 150 people in them, we look at the platform in that way. The team is spending a lot of time on unity right now, how we can be better ourselves as partners for developers, and make sure that they have a greater integration with all Facebook channels. Thats what we spend a lot of time on as well as playing a lot of gamesHow to keep away from App Center gaming
Gaming an app store is nothing new, just ask Apple. The company has had to deal with people literally building companies that focus on helping apps drive up the charts “artificially” through incentivized download programs for consumers. It’s annoying and it’s something that Apple needs to fix.
The way around making the experience better for Facebook users is providing and surfacing real, awesome context around why they might like a certain game:
We do our best with putting social context on everything that we do. We have the rating system that is something that’s not easily gamed. Great indie games and great big games are finding an audience. As long as you speak authentically with the audience, things will work out. Engagement is essential.Working side-by-side with game developers
The way to get game developers to adopt new features is to keep them in the loop at all times and not drop new things in their lap with minimal instructions or obnoxiously long documentation. Facebook tries to avoid this by keeping in contact with developers all of the time. In fact, the entire team makes itself available whenever they’re around to answer a question.
The Product Manager of Games at Facebook, Gareth Davis, gave me a bit of insight on how he works with those developers, having been one himself since an early age, then going on to EA, and developing titles for Sega. He shared:
I’ve worked in games for most of my career, the only time I wasn’t when I was in movies. I started out as a game developer, taught myself how to code when I was a kid, and then developed a game as a teenager. It was a game called “Suspicious Cargo: Out of luck in outer space.” Gremlin published it in Europe. I got hooked on the industry, relocated to Silicon Valley, where games grew up and worked for a bunch of companies here, and I even worked with the guy who built Tetris. Pretty much every Summer I had as a kid was lost in a game. I played Tetris on a Gameboy all day every day.
Davis has been at Facebook for 4 1/2 years, and for a while he was the “Games team.” He truly wants developers to be able to take their time and make something fun, with small or large teams involved, and then find a way to make money from it so that they can do it again. Only a game developer could think in that way, and that’s Davis.
Facebook changes the gaming industry by injecting social functionality into it, and Davis was there from day 1:
In ’08/’09 a new industry was created, people were really excited about it. We had a ton of new games. It became a big industry and ecosystem with millions of players, and it was an incredible experience. Having been in the shoes of the game developers, staying up late and putting your heart and soul into a creative a product, to empathize with game developers, bringing games to the masses like this is a dream come true.
It’s not just Davis anymore, as he told me that Facebook has a “small team with large impact” all over the world working with all teams at the company, as well as those game developers that work so hard. His primary focus is to see what’s working for games, gather feedback and then continually iterate on the platform to make sure that everyone gets to see the same success:
We work very very fast and ship things every week and in some cases every day. Because we’re a web service we can iterate quickly using the feedback from our partners. In terms of adoption, every developer will look at the feature-set out there, some make sense for some games and some don’t. If you have a game with clans and alliances it’s a no-brainer to integrate groups. These groups are being created already, but how do we link it into the game and drive people to the game? That’s why we built it.
How can Facebook keep moving so quickly without losing the attention and adoption from its more than one billion users? Davis says that the majority of the users, especially ones that play games, are used to the change and that he feels like Facebook does a good job of making it a really great experience and not a pain when something new pops up:
Everything is a living-breathing product that we’re iterating on, and a ton of discovery on Facebook comes through people. We’ve had all of these channels in the system since day one, that’s why we can get audiences of tens of millions playing a game. App Center, for example, is just an additional way to do that. If you’re looking for a game to play, this is a place to go where you can discover them.But how can the entire world be gamers if they’re not?
As I stated, I’m not a gamer. I don’t consider myself who can even say that playing games is a hobby. But I will admit that spending a few minutes, or hours, sometimes on a new game is rewarding and fun. Sure, I work really hard and I’m an edge case, but I know a lot of other people in the same boat.
The big thing that Facebook introduced to the world is that everybody likes to play games but most people don’t consider themselves a gamer. The beauty of many Facebook games, you ask them if they’re playing a game, and they say no I’m just hanging out and talking and having fun. A lot of games on Facebook have made that experience prominent.
Hanging out and having fun. On Facebook. Sounds like something that a lot of people do. Are you playing a game while you’re hanging out? You might be, but you might not consider yourself a gamer. That’s ok. We all like to have fun. Will i start playing a ton of games? Probably not, but I might hang out in a group chat while others do. And who knows, maybe I’ll stop being so shy and go play with them.
[Photo credit: ]
Facebook has shared some insights into just how content appears in your News Feed and what’s important to you. At its monthly whiteboarding session, the social network talked about the algorithm it uses in order to display content. The company hopes that by doing so, it will help people discover content that is most interesting to them in the short amount of time they have.
The social network announced earlier this week that it was rolling out a dedicated Pages Feed section to the site where users could get insights into the latest news from brands and businesses that they like. This feature is currently being rolled out to its users and if you don’t have it now, it should roll out eventually. At first glance, when you look at the Pages Feed, it might seem to be confusing — what was the point in having the content from pages a user has subscribed to be duplicated in this section while also being on the News Feed?
Facebook recognizes this and explains it this way: your News Feed is the place where you’re going to be able to find the most engaging content. The Pages Feed is for all the other interesting content you might want to read from Pages that you like or subscribe to.
An example given by Facebook is if Yoda has “Liked” several pages, such as Darth Vader, the Empire, and the Rebel Alliance. Based on three specific criteria, Yoda might see relevant content at the top of his News Feed from Darth Vader and the Rebel Alliance pages, but not necessarily from the Empire.
So what is the criteria that Facebook uses to determine what content is more prominent than the other? First, its algorithm looks at the reaction by the user to the publisher: how interested is Yoda, in this example, be to understand that in the Vader page, there was content that listed Luke as Vader’s son (sorry if I ruined the movie for you). The next thing that’s looked at is the reaction by other people to the post: have the Emperor and Leia responded to the post and what is their relationship to Yoda. Lastly, Facebook looks at how people reacted to other “relationship” stories.
For those negatively-viewed posts (e.g. those that have complaints or are hidden), the service has a system in place that would “penalize” them so that a user won’t see them at the top of the page as a result of it — you might think of it as a semantic search.
Brands that have Pages on Facebook will find that they won’t be able to gauge how interesting or engaging their posts are through the Pages Feed. Currently, there’s no way for a Pages owner to know whether a specific post has been seen in a user’s News Feed or if it’s been demoted to the Pages Feed. Facebook says that right now it’s not a part of its Pages Insight feature.
Facebook says that the Pages Feed has a totally different theme from the News Feed. It is continuously working to improve the algorithm in order to help bring the right content to the people.
Photo credit: RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
Facebook hundreds of new gifts have been made available through the new Facebook Gifts product. It has also begun to roll out Facebook Gifts to more users.
The new partners include retailers such as babyGAP, Fab, Brookstone and Lindt among others. Users can now gift subscriptions to television and music services Hulu Plus, Pandora, Rdio and more. Users will also soon be able to buy wine from Robert Mondavi Winery and Chandon through Gifts. By expanding its inventory, Facebook can attract more users to buy things for their friends and develop its e-commerce business.
Retailers can work with Facebook and offer their goods through Gifts, allowing users to share these products on their Timeline. By doing this, they are receiving more brand recognition and essentially an endorsement from users. Facebook has not revealed what percentage of sales it is taking from Gifts.
Facebook Gifts, introduced , is currently only available to select users in the U.S. More recently, Gifts has been made available to users through the . The social network has also included the ability for users to make in a friend’s name earlier this month.
Facebook today announced that it will offer a self-service conversion measurement feature for direct response marketers and expand the capabilities of its Optimized CPM bidding option to incorporate conversion data.
Facebook tells us marketers will be able to use its tool to generate a unique bit of code to add to any page on their website where they want to measure conversions, for example, checkout pages or registration forms. When marketers choose bidding, Facebook’s system will show ads to users who are most likely to convert.
Most significantly, this new tool will be available via the self-serve Facebook ad platform, which could help a range of advertisers improve their campaigns and see more results. Some of the social network’s top advertisers have been able to work with the company to do this type of conversion tracking for about a year, if not longer. Other large advertisers work with third-party ad companies to track and optimize their campaigns for conversions. This new tool will allow conversion tracking for smaller advertisers who are using Facebook ads to drive online actions.
For Facebook, it will be important to keep the process for the advertiser very simple and provide enough education about tracking and optimized bidding. The company tried implementing a conversion tracking tool , but ended the beta . A Facebook engineer the test resulted in a lot of confusion among advertisers and required too much overhead to provide user support. The company says the difference now is the combination of conversion measurement and Optimized CPM.
Facebook began testing the Optimized CPM bidding option . The feature allows advertisers to set their marketing goals, and then have Facebook’s system automatically serve ads in a way that achieves those goals as efficiently as possible. Some advertisers are initially skeptical of this because it means they do not control their own bids, but Facebook says it can capture the highest-value impressions for an advertiser’s goals, and the total ROI on a campaign is likely to exceed that of either a CPC or a traditional CPM campaign. Fab.com, which beta tested Optimized CPM with conversion tracking, saw 39 percent lower costs per action using this type of bidding.
Preferred Marketing Developers who offer self-serve software or managed services for Facebook advertising typically have their own conversion tracking tools that go beyond the basic functionality Facebook is making available. Optimal CEO Rob Leathern says his company and other PMDs are focused on larger enterprise customers that need advanced features like view-based conversion and engagement tracking, server-side conversion tracking and return on ad spend metrics that consider conversion values like purchase price. Still, he’s glad to see Facebook taking steps to prove the value of its ads across the board.
“This is a positive development for everyone in the ecosystem. Any movements towards more accountability and the ability to track ROI will just lead to more ad spend and more activity in the Facebook ads ecosystem, so we welcome it,” Leathern says. He added, “We also allow companies to create their own completely flexible optimization rules that refer to any Facebook-supplied metrics (e.g. likes, video views, photo views, whatever), use Facebook’s bidding optimization or combine them, so this will add additional value for our customers.”
Facebook’s Data Science team parsed the 9 million users they say clicked on the application, offering a glimpse into not just who was voting, but across Facebook Nov. 6.
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Facebook’s , which decides what users see and when, has become a hot topic in recent months as the company tweaks it to ensure that users see the content with which they’d be most likely to engage. During a meeting Friday with selected members of the media, Facebook representatives explained that there’s with the changes in its algorithm. Based on how users have engaged with posts in the past, Facebook wants users to see what kinds of stories they’d be most willing to like, comment on, and share.
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Social advertising company Compass Labs this week announced the arrival of CLIQ Social Intelligence, a platform to provide brands and agencies with key insights about their audiences, including customer interests, media preferences, demographic makeup and more.
Compass Labs offers managed advertising services, as well as self-serve software, but VP of Marketing Molly Glover Gallatin says the company found that advertisers are looking for more than ad creation and optimization. The CLIQ Social Intelligence platform aims to give companies a better understanding of their owned and earned media, in addition to paid.
Businesses will be able to see their Facebook and Twitter analytics, track brand competitors and see trends among their fans. Beyond the gender, age and location information that is available from Facebook’s own insights tool, CLIQ Social Intelligence shows stats on family status and ethnicity. It also highlights the most popular sports, teams, athletes, music, movies, YouTube videos, websites and apps among a page’s fans.
This type of information can logically be applied to brands’ social ad targeting or content strategy, but many businesses are finding that these insights can influence all aspects of their marketing and overall business. For instance, a pet food brand learned that its fans had greater affinity for Target than Walmart, so it worked to get more of its products on the shelves at Target. Another brand is using its audience’s music preferences to seek out partnership opportunities with musicians for a new campaign.
With the new tool, Compass Labs can now claim the Facebook Preferred Marketing badge in Insights. It previously was only certified in ads.
Naked Communications and the Seventh Generation CPG brand were involved in the of the CLIQ Social Intelligence platform.
The welcomed a new chief operating officer: Cole Crawford, who has been involved in the open-source sector since 1992, holding positions at and Nebula, as well as advising the Linux Foundation.
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Boomerang, the Facebook-based gifting service that launched its beta test in Chicago earlier this year, just announced that it is now expanding beyond its initial market and making its first move toward launching its nationwide operations. Starting today, Boomerang users in three new cities, New York, Austin and Indianapolis, can now send each other real-world gifts like cupcakes, drinks, massages or kayaking adventures. Users receive these gifts through Facebook or email in the form of digital vouchers that they can then redeem at local businesses.
To make it harder for people to forget to send gifts, Boomerang users Facebook data to highlight important events in the lives of its users’ friends (think birthdays, new jobs, new homes, etc.). Recently, Boomerang also added the option to personalize its virtual gift cards with themes, stamps and messages.
“We’re excited to extend our platform beyond our initial market to extend its benefits to merchants across the country,” Zachary Smith, the company’s founder and CEO said in a canned statement today. “Facebook ignites viral conversations and brand awareness far less expensively than traditional customer acquisition channels. We’re excited to help our partners capture a chunk of the $100 billion gift card market.”
With today’s launch, Boomerang is adding a wide variety of new partners, including Wine.com and Travelocity, as well as major national brands like Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic and Gap. Boomerang is now also working with a number of charitable organizations like the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Mercy Corps to let gift givers make honorary donations in the recipients’ names.
Smith notes that “there is nothing more effective and powerful than a friend’s referral to win new customers.” While Boomerang is obviously working with a number of major brands, the service also aims to create deeper relationships with small businesses as it continues to expand to new cities. This sounds a bit like Groupon, and there is probably a reason for that. Boomerang is backed by Lightbank, the investment fund created by Groupon’s founders. Earlier this year, the fund invested $1 million in the service after the team pivoted away from its original idea of building a travel recommendations site under the name Gtrot.
English is still the most widely spoken on Facebook, but a new challenger is rising. According to statistics from Socialbakers, a growing number of new users speak Portuguese, the third-most-popular language on the social network.
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This week, is hiring an analytics engineer, a data scientist, and a C++ game programmer. Meanwhile, Fast Company needs an associate art director for tablet and print, and Alternative Press is seeking a digital content editor. Get the scoop on these openings below, and find additional social media jobs on Mediabistro.
- Analytics Engineer King.com (Stockholm, Sweden)
- Data Scientist King.com (Stockholm, Sweden)
- C++ Game Programmer King.com (Stockholm, Sweden)
- Associate Art Director for Tablet and Print Fast Company (New York, NY)
- Digital Content Editor Alternative Press (Cleveland, OH)
Find more great on our job board. Looking to hire? Tap into our network of talented AllFacebook pros and post a risk-free job listing. For real-time openings and employment news, follow .
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Facebook is taking steps to provide more clarity to direct-response marketers on the effectiveness of their on the social network, announcing the extended beta test of a self-service conversion-measurement feature that it plans to roll out at the end of November.
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