Will Facebook’s New Design Hurt App Developers?

By Josh Catone
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One of the first things I noticed about the Facebook redesign that began to be rolled out today, was the increased presence of Facebook’s Social Ads on application pages. Where before, app canvas pages had a single flyer on the left hand side — which due to being below the user editable application nav menu could actually be below the fold — the new app canvas pages have two Facebook ad units prominently displayed above the fold to the right of application content.

Nick O’Neill at the AllFacebook blog also picked up on the changes, noting that Facebook now has the option of running large, half page 300 x 600 ads — traditionally one of the better performing ad units — on application canvas pages. Because of current restrictions, app developers themselves cannot run ads that large on their applications. O’Neill sees this as a shot across the bow of the many Facebook ad networks that have sprouted to support applications on the Facebook platform.

“Facebook’s new sales pitch? ‘Why go with those other Facebook application ad networks when we can give you 300 x 250 and 300 x 600 advertisements?'” says O’Neill.

However, O’Neill also says that there are no signs that Facebook plans to share any application page advertising revenue with app developers. It makes sense for Facebook to try to maximize revenue opportunities on app canvas pages — which represent a huge number of page views. But it doesn’t make sense for them to do it at the expense of external application ad networks if they don’t plan to help out app developers who could be potentially hurt by the change.

New stats show that the total number of applications at Facebook is on the rise, but the number of daily active users is falling. Facebook’s redesign is focused squarely at reducing this application fatigue by stemming the spread of “spammy” apps. Making it harder for applications to make money may cause developers looking to make a quick buck with “useless” viral apps to think twice about building an app. But the risk is that by stealing clients from Facebook app ad networks and not sharing revenue with app developers, Facebook might end up hurting their top performing applications as well.

My guess is that Facebook will begin offering access to their in house sales team and revenue sharing with top apps at some point in the future, or they’ll risk damaging the entire app ecosystem.

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  • Aaron Schkecl

    Nice try with the refocus of the site, but I don’t think you guys can compete with Digg and TechCrunch. You’ve left it too long IMHO and now I barely check SitePoint at all. Last time was about 2 months ago. I just don’t think you’re seen as relevant or news worthy anymore guys…

  • No changes at all yet for me…

  • VodkaFish

    Most noticable change for me is that the FriendFeed app would make a note in my mini-feed that I had activity, and then list what it was (post to Twitter, bookmark to StumbleUpon, etc). Now, it just says I have activity. That’s it. Makes it virtually worthless. I’ll wait to see if that changes quickly, and if not, I’ll have to remove it from my Facebook account.

  • @TheOriginalH: Try http://www.new.facebook.com/ to see the new profile if it hasn’t been pushed out to your network yet.

  • @Aaron: It’s not our intention to compete with TechCrunch — and certainly not with Digg. That’s not what I did at ReadWriteWeb, and not what I intend to do at SitePoint. Our goal is to provide readers with more coverage of current news stories in the web tech world, hopefully interesting and thoughtful analysis and unique takes on what’s going on, and to stimulate conversations with and among our readers.

  • To Aaron: Sitepoint and TechCruch are very different websites. For example, you won’t see a lot of iPhone messages here. When I checked the feed of TechCrunch in the past week, the first thing I did is to filter out all messages with iPhone in the headlines. I don’t hate Apple nor iPhone, but I really tired of seeing nearly half of the news feeds are flooded with iPhone…

  • innovapixel

    i like the new facebook design, i think google has trained us to look at ads on the right hand side, and also the majority of web users are right handed and tend to focus our attention to the right so this will increase clicks.