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Feb 2013

Over the years, Facemash evolved into TheFacebook and now it is simply called Facebook. The central focus of Facebook has remained relatively unchanged over the years: each person adds a profile picture, add their friends and relationships, and indicate what stuff they liked. However, over time, Facebook has slyly injected advertising into its stream that accounts for majority of its revenue.

Here, we will look at some key changes introduced in 2013 that affects how we interact with Facebook for advertising purposes.

1) Breaking Change Policy

Facebook is committing to a 90-day breaking change policy that will take effect in April 2013. This means that Platform changes that require a code change from developers (security and privacy changes excluded) will be announced at least 90 days before the change.

All announcements will be bundled into quarterly updates except security and privacy changes that are time sensitive issues.

There are four categories that are covered in this policy:

a)   Change/Removal of major functionality. This includes but is not limited to actions such as removing FBML, the REST API, an SDK or requiring SSL.

b)  Backwards compatibility.  Facebook will continue to enhance their existing APIs and reserves the right to add new parameters, return fields, etc. They foresee that the changes would not break any existing apps but caution developers that their apps should be able to properly handle these scenarios.

a)   Facebook product changes. Facebook will continue to evolve but no promises are given that communication of changes will be given beforehand. However, Facebook assures us that they will inform us when they launch and will try their best to minimize disruption.

b)  Privacy and security-related changes. As mentioned above, such changes are time sensitive and Facebook strives to solve such vulnerabilities as fast as possible. In these situations, there is no way for them to pre-announce the changes. However, Facebook assures us that they will work with developers to quickly provide workarounds so that apps can be fixed in the shortest amount of time.

2)  Modifying Public App Metrics

On 16th of January 2013, Facebook changed how it reported their public app usage metrics. It was changed to provide a more consistent view of the ecosystem and highlight successful apps earlier in their life-cycle.

This moving reporting approximates active user numbers to reporting an overall rank and active user thresholds. This however does not alter the actual number of people using apps and developers will continue to have access to their exact usage metrics in App Insights.

In order to provide access to the new ranking data, Facebook will add new fields to the application object via the Graph API and FQL.

3) Instagram Starts Sharing User Data with Facebook

Instagram was purchased by Facebook in April of last year. Last month, there was a uproar when Instagram changed their policy to allow for people’s photos to be utilized for advertising. While this incensed many consumers, the site continues to grow and now boasts almost 100 million monthly users, with 40 million photos added daily.

On 18th of January 2013, Instagram started sharing their users’ data with Facebook in order to more effectively target their advertising and increase their revenue. Facebook already users their data to target ads that the consumer would be interested in thus adding the data from Instagram will only serve to make this model more effective.

With this inception, Facebook will now have 300 million photos everyday that they can use to monetize both Facebook and Instagram. However, be rest assured that Instagram photos will never be automatically shared on Facebook which would definitely be a breach of privacy. In the meantime, the Federal Trade Commission will be keeping an eye on things and make sure that consumers’ privacy are not violated. Activity on one site being shared without the consent on the other would go against the FTC order that was brought down on Facebook last year.

I hope this post gave you some insights about the latest changes in Facebook which will matter to us as marketers. Feel free to share your thoughts about these changes as comments below! 🙂

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