It's been nearly two months since Facebook launched a new breed of social apps in partnership with media brands including Netflix, Spotify and the Washington Post at its f8 conference, allowing users to consume content within Facebook's platform and share what they're watching, listening to or reading in real-time. Now the social network is gearing up to announce a slew of new partnerships in 2012.
Speaking at Ad Age 's Media Evolved conference in New York today, Facebook's manager in charge of strategic media partnerships, Andy Mitchell, told the audience success stories of recently launched media apps that have fared well thus far. He also noted that Facebook's Timeline -- which will soon be widely released and has the ambitious goal of telling the story of users' lives on their personal page -- will give media apps greater visibility, since users who have opted in will have their activity on the app displayed in a module on their page.
In particular, Mr. Mitchell noted that The Guardian's Facebook app, which includes an activity stream showing what a user's friends are reading, had flourished, with the British newspaper reporting a million installs in the first month. He also cited Yahoo News, which chose to integrate social features that show what a user's friends are reading on its own domain instead of creating an app within Facebook, had reported 2 million installs as of Nov. 2. Meanwhile, the on-demand music service MOG has reported its traffic up four times since launching its app.
Mr. Mitchell noted that a key change rolled out after f8 was a tweaking of Facebook's news feed algorithm aimed at separating out the noise that would have otherwise cluttered feeds with actions taken around the new apps. Actions taken within apps, including the global actions of "watch", "listen" and "read," as well as custom actions that app builders will be able to appoint, will surface in a user's "ticker" on the upper right corner of their screen instead. And activity within apps will also be surfaced on a user's home page once Timeline is rolled out.
Asked whether the visibility of the new apps would lead to them becoming like pop-up ads in the user experience, Mr. Mitchell emphasize that the news-feed changes were aimed at surfacing only the activities and status updates that users are most interested in based on what they've previously clicked on. He also noted that the media apps are opt-in, and that people will essentially be choosing to incorporate them into their own personal brands when they decide to install them.
"People are only going to authorize publishers that they're comfortable with," he said.