Facebook enables mobile app installs direct from News Feed, offers developers more customization and reporting

Facebook today announced changes to its mobile app install ad unit, including a way for iOS 6 users to download apps without leaving the social network. Developers also gained new tools for customizing their ad creative and seeing the results of their campaign.

Mobile app install ads, launched in October after beginning in beta in August, are feed-based ads to drive downloads of third-party iOS and Android applications. Developers can use the same demographic and interest-based targeting options as they can for other ads on the Facebook platform, including being able to target users who have not already connected with an app.

Typically these ads lead to the Apple App Store or Google Play, but now Facebook has created a way for iOS 6 users to see an App Store overlay within the Facebook app. These users can download a developer’s app without losing their place in News Feed. For now, Android users will still be taken out of the app and into Google Play.

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Facebook mobile versions lack options to provide negative feedback on ads

As users increasingly check Facebook from phones and tablets, the social network is placing more ads in the mobile feed. Although the company says it is monitoring ad performance and user sentiment, two important feedback mechanisms are either missing or hidden on most mobile versions of Facebook: “hide” and “mark as spam.”

These options, which are available on every sponsored or organic story within the desktop feed, are inconsistent when it comes to mobile. Mobile ads are already a $3-million-a-day business for Facebook, but for the company to truly get a sense of how users feel about ads and other content in their feed, there needs to be a clear way for them to provide negative feedback. As it stands now, the social network is likely missing important data and in some cases may be getting false-positive signals when users try to mark a story as spam but end up clicking into it instead.

For instance, on m.facebook.com, users have to tap on the Likes/Comments section of a post, which will take them to a new screen where they can tap a button in the top right corner and then select “hide story” or “report/mark as spam.” If no one has Liked or commented on a story, there is no way to provide this negative feedback. If the story is a photo, users have to tap a small “report photo” link below the image because no button appears in the top right.


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Facebook mobile app install ads available to all iOS, Android developers

Facebook today announced that its mobile app install ads have come out of beta and are available for all iOS and Android developers that have integrated Facebook into their apps.

These ads, which went into beta in early August, allow developers to promote their native mobile apps through Facebook News Feed. When a user clicks on the ad, they are taken to a download page in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Developers can use the same demographic and interest-based targeting options as they can for other ads on the Facebook platform, including being able to target users who have not already connected with an app. Other mobile ad networks do not have a way to determine if a user has already downloaded an app, but Facebook can see if a user has logged into an app with Facebook and then avoid wasting impressions on those users.

Facebook says beta partners like Kabam, Fab, TinyCo and Big Fish were able to efficiently drive installs among relevant audiences. For example, TinyCo saw 50 percent higher clickthrough rates and significantly higher conversion rates compared to other mobile advertising channels. Fab found Facebook’s mobile install ads to be five times more effective than other mobile ad networks.

Some Preferred Marketing Developers were also part of the beta, buying mobile app install ads on behalf of developers. For example, Nanigans saw 8-10x reach compared to other mobile ad buys it has done for clients. It says average CPCs range from $0.18 to $0.60, and in some instances, CTRs have been higher than 3 percent. Ad Parlor saw CTR consistently between 1-2 percent.

As we wrote about Tuesday, Facebook recently began testing a new design for these ads, which are larger and include the “Install Now” call to action, as well as star ratings.

The state of Android vs iOS usage among Facebook users

About 20.1 percent of Facebook users connect to the service on an Android device compared to 18.9 percent of users who connect with an iOS device, according to data from Optimal, Inc.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer last week that Facebook had more users on Android than iOS. We asked social media advertising and analytics platform provider Optimal for the details.

Optimal’s data shows about 189.8 million users active on Android devices — accessing Facebook through the native app or the mobile web. About 178.3 million are active on iOS. That’s among 944.2 million monthly active users addressable with the Facebook Ads API, not the full billion announced last week.

Below are the top 20 territories with the highest share of Android usage. The “Index” figure in the chart shows relative prevalence of each OS versus the population, so it compares global Android penetration to Android penetration in that country — and does the same for iOS.

Android has the highest share in South Korea, where it is used by 52.6 percent of the population versus 20.3 percent using iOS. Singapore and Australia have the highest iOS penetration, both with 48.8 percent of the population using Apple’s mobile OS.

The U.S. has the highest collective penetration of Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, with 83.5 percent of the Facebook population using these devices each month. The country is among the 38 percent of territories with more iOS than Android usage. In the U.S., 44.1 percent of users are on iOS versus 39.4 on Android.

The countries with the next largest population of Facebook users, Brazil and India, both use Android more than iOS, but these devices make up a smaller percentage of overall use as feature phones still dominate these markets. In Brazil, for example, Android has 11.8 percent share and iOS has 6.4 percent share.

U.K. Facebook users are split 28.2 percent on iOS and 16.2 percent on Android.

Facebook does not share an exact breakdown of how many users access the social network via native apps compared to the mobile web, but Zuckerberg says overall more people use the mobile web than native iOS and Android apps combined. The company has recently been working to improve its native offerings. The iOS app was updated at the end of August, focusing on speed by replacing some HTML5 with native functionality. Engadget reports today that a new native Facebook for Android app is in the final stages of testing, according to an anonymous source. Zuckerberg previously said that this was in the works, but did not offer a time frame for when it would be available.

Early tests from Optimal and other advertising companies showed that clickthrough and conversion rates were higher on Android than iPhone, though costs per click and per fan were higher. Optimal says Android users took additional actions, such as viewing profile photos, Liking posts and commenting, more often than iPhone users did.

More than 15M users connect Facebook with iOS 6

More than 15.3 million users have connected their Facebook accounts with iOS 6, according to our AppData tracking service.

On Monday, Apple announced that more than 100 million iOS devices are running the latest operating system. This means roughly 15 percent of iOS users have connected with Facebook only a week after the option became available. Facebook integration in iOS 6 allows users to post photos and status updates directly to the social network, sync their contacts and events, as well as Like items in iTunes and the App Store.

It’s worth noting that users can connect a single Facebook account to multiple devices — an iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, for example — and the number of devices running iOS 6 and connecting with Facebook is growing every day so this is a very early figure. Overall, though, this is a good number of people connecting with Facebook, considering that users are not prompted to connect their accounts during the process of upgrading to iOS 6 or starting up their iPhone 5. It seems many users were aware of the Facebook integration in advance and sought out to connect their accounts through the settings menu, where they can also configure Twitter sharing. Users will also see a prompt when they attempt to share a link or photo to Facebook for the first time.

Some users might have hesitated to connect with Facebook because of reports that it will create duplicate contacts or include the wrong email addresses for their friends. However, users have the option to disable contacts and events from syncing. Others might not ever want to connect their accounts because they prefer not to link Facebook to other services. When users connect iOS with Facebook, third-party apps can more easily use a person’s Facebook information to customize the experience, though users have full control over which apps can do this.

According to AppData, iOS has 15,346,811 monthly active users and 12,492,123 daily active users. For the most part, Facebook has not been reporting numbers for iOS, but it did temporarily today.

Facebook updates developer SDK with support for iOS 6, more native UI controls

Facebook today released Facebook SDK 3.1 for iOS, which includes support for iOS 6 integration and more native UI controls that developers can plug into their apps.

The update builds upon much of what was announced in July with the 3.0 beta version, but now that iOS 6 is available for all users, development will ramp up. With the new iOS integration, developers can use the native Facebook Login so users don’t have to switch between apps during the auth process. There is also an option for apps to post to Facebook using the new native share dialog. Both features are seen below.

Today’s SDK update also includes ready-to-use UI controls — profile picture control, Friend Picker and Place Picker – which Facebook introduced this summer. There also seem to be additional login controls for easily building login and logout experiences. These components allow developers to begin from a template rather than building each from scratch. For example, the friend-picker tool gives users a familiar UI to invite their friends to use an app. It will even allow developers to filter friends by device and app auth status, so that users don’t send invites to friends who don’t use iOS devices or who have already added the app.

Version 3.1 brings improved API support and session management, as well as a new ad analytics beta product for developers to understand the effectiveness of the mobile Facebook ads they run for their apps. More information is available from the Facebook Developer site here.

Facebook integration coming to iPhone and iTunes App Store next week

Apple today announced a Sept. 19 release date for iOS 6 and a new version of the iTunes App Store, which both include Facebook integration.

As previewed in June, iOS 6 will include Facebook “tap to post” and sharing from Photos, Safari, Maps and other applications. Users can also post status updates using Siri. Apple has added Facebook contact info to its address book and Facebook events to its calendar app, and Game Center will import friends from Facebook. Across mobile and desktop, the App Store will include Like buttons so users can see which apps, music, movies and shows their friends Like.

Next week owners of the iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, the new iPad and iPad 2 will be able to upgrade to iOS 6 for free. The new operating system will come preloaded on the iPhone 5 and new iPod Touch devices.

Images from Apple.

Facebook updates developer SDK for iOS

Facebook today released a new beta version of its developer SDK for iOS that aims to make it easier and faster to develop Facebook-integrated iOS apps. The update will also help developers integrate Facebook Login for their apps when Apple’s iOS 6 launches later this fall with deep integration for the social network.

Facebook says this is the biggest iOS SDK update the company has ever done. Facebook SDK 3.0 for iOS gives developers a new FBSession to manage, store and refresh user tokens with default behaviors they can override. Previously, managing user sessions and tokens could be difficult. The company says it has improved latency for Facebook API calls by enabling batching for SDK requests. This and additional API support could encourage developers to integrate Open Graph and create apps that publish actions to users’ Timelines.

Today’s update also includes a number of pre-built user interface components to allow developers to begin from a template rather than building each from scratch. Facebook says this will make it easier to build common features like displaying a user’s profile photo, finding nearby places to check in, and selecting friends to invite to an app. The friend-picker tool will even allow developers to filter friends by device and app auth status, so that users don’t send invites to friends who don’t use iOS devices or who have already added the app.

The company also sought to reduce the amount of time developers spend on memory management. Facebook says it has improved the experience for handling sessions and calls to asynchronous APIs, as well as making the transition more seamless between the Facebook SDK and Apple’s iOS environment.

The social network created a new section of its developer site focused on iOS development. Developers can go there to download the SDK and read technical guides and other resources about how to use Facebook to build, distribute and promote their apps.

Facebook seeks to improve iOS app discovery

Facebook added additional settings to help native iOS applications get traffic from the mobile News Feed, search and other avenues, the company announced today in a blog post.

Developers can optimize distribution by allowing single sign-on and deep linking. Apps that enable Facebook SSO can get distribution from the Facebook iOS app in News Feed, Timeline, requests, bookmarks and search. That’s why Pinterest, for example, is discoverable through mobile search, but Yahoo’s web-based social reader is not.

In October 2011, Facebook introduced social app discovery for mobile devices. With the platform, iOS users can be taken directly to a native app after tapping on a story from Facebook. Users who have not downloaded the app are directed to the Apple App Store. With deep linking, users can be directed to specific pages within an iOS app rather than a landing page.

Facebook reminds developers that users can click on links from a number of contexts — native apps, web and mobile browsers — so the link iOS apps provide should work for these users, too.

For details on how to integrate Facebook with iOS applications, see the developer tutorial here.

Facebook roundup: subscribe, SOPA, online video, Koobface, MTV, more

Featured page owners get subscribe button – Fans can now more easily subscribe to Facebook page admins who make themselves visible as “Page Owners.” Facebook added a subscribe button to this featured section of pages on Friday. This only applies to page owners who have enabled subscribers.

Zuckerberg weighs in on SOPA -  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg weighed in on the Stop Online Piracy Act on Wednesday, writing in a Facebook post, “We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the Internet’s development.”

Facebook fifth in video viewers – ComScore reported this week that Facebook was the fifth most popular destination for online video behind Google, VEVO, Yahoo and Viacom. This is among the 182 million Internet users in the U.S. who watched online videos in December. Last year Facebook placed sixth, but generally has not seen steady growth in this category. [Image via ZDnet]

Employees increasingly use social media at work -  Palo Alto Networks found a 300 percent increase in social networking on corporate networks this year. Specifically, bandwidth consumption for Facebook apps, social plugins and posting increased from 5 percent to 25 percent since October 2010.

Update on Koobface virus -  Facebook security team posted an update about the Koobface virus this week, noting that after three years the company is been able to keep the virus off the platform, but is still seeking those responsible.

Next gen iPad includes Facebook code - iMore is reporting that buried within the iOS 5.1 beta 3 code for iPad3 are “ongoing references to Facebook.”

MTV uses Facebook for scholarships -  MTV has partnered with the College Board and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to run a campaign called My College Dollars, which guides students to college scholarships for which they can apply.

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