Over 70% of people who use Facebook for iPad have played a game connected to Facebook in the past 90 days. The company is therefore helping them to discover or reintegrate games via a new home page sidebar that it is starting to test today on its iPad application. It includes social notifications for native mobile web and Facebook games you already play, video trailers for games you don’t play, and trending news articles and videos popular with your demographic. .
Growth opportunities could prompt more developers to integrate Facebook into their games, and Facebook plans to eventually sell game ads in this space. By filling the extra screen space with what tablet users love, Facebook is hoping its iPad home can become a more essential part of people’s lives … even if that means bouncing them into other apps or show them YouTube videos.
“It was kind of obvious once you looked at the data on how people actually use tablets,” Dan Morris, Facebook’s North America game partner, told me of the. change. While Facebook will initially roll it out to a subset of iPad users as a test, it plans to give it out to everyone soon. The change will finally give Facebook for iPad some exclusive features, making it more than just a larger version of the iPhone app.
For now, the test will apply to iPad users in the United States, but it is likely that eventually all iPad users. There are no immediate plans for a smartphone version of the sidebar, but something similar could be hidden in a sub-tab since there is no space to display it all the time.
Facebook’s place in mobile gaming: ads
Facebook has spent years fumbling around when it comes to mobile games because it lacked its own mobile operating system that developers could rely on. It launched an HTML5 app platform in a bid to compete with Apple’s iOS App Store and Google Android’s Play Store, but the mobile web standard was too weak to attract developers.
But in 2012, Facebook found a huge money generator in the form of mobile app installation ads. The proliferation of apps has overwhelmed iOS and Android stores, leaving developers desperate to find ways to grow. Facebook has leveraged its massive mobile engagement and targeting data to sell newsfeed ads to developers that get them downloads. These app install ads are key to keeping Facebook virtually zero revenue on mobile to earn 59% of its ad revenue there, or $ 1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2014.
Now, Facebook is using its new iPad apps sidebar to simultaneously help users find games, inspire iOS and Android game developers to add Facebook integrations, and open up more ad space for installing apps.
Developers with games built on Facebook’s desktop canvas platform or who offer a Facebook login option in their native mobile apps are eligible for a free promotion in the iPad sidebar. They’ll just need to sign up and have a trailer uploaded for their game. Facebook can then post them in one of two places in the sidebar.
Attract developers with promotion
The first is popular games. This section features video trailers for games that Facebook thinks you might want to play. Watch the trailer and if you like it click to download or subscribe to the game. Presence here will be free for now, but when I asked, Morris admitted “There will be ad units somewhere. goes on the road. We are definitely considering allowing developers to promote their apps with an advertising element. But for now, we’re just trying to do some good for developers and mobile gamers.
The second opportunity is My Games. This shows users in-app notifications for games they are already playing, which Facebook knows from the data it collects from its login system. These could be friend requests, someone asking for help with a level, or a notice that it’s their turn to move. Morris tells me those alerts have been scattered across the Facebook notifications channel and News Feed stories, but My Games in the iPad sidebar creates “a meaningful social hub” for your games. These are actually re-engagement notifications, which could be very valuable to developers, as a download is only half the battle. They have a hard time keeping people playing their games.
The free and paid growth opportunities in the sidebar could convince developers to offer Facebook Login as an alternative to creating a special account and password for their games, or a way to share on Facebook. In return, Facebook gets more information about what its users are doing outside of its walls, which makes it easier to target ads, and gets more content shared in its news feed where it monetizes eyeballs with ads. .
Trendy entertainment, too
Beyond the games, the sidebar houses two other sections. One is a mobile version of the Twitter-inspired trending topics sidebar that Facebook launched to the web earlier this year. Rather than a simple cryptic word or hashtag leading to a list of Twitter-like mentions, Facebook’s trending topics come with short descriptions of why they’re popular. Clicking on it gets a canonical link to a trending news article, as well as mentions by your friends and other media.
Trending videos are fresh for the iPad sidebar. This offers playable videos online which Morris says are popular with your demographic, so in my case 25-35 year old men in San Francisco. The section takes advantage of users’ willingness to watch videos on the larger screen iPad, which is often connected to Wi-Fi. Even if the videos are from YouTube or Vimeo, which may display their own pre-roll ads. or overlaid, Facebook could make money if users come to its iPad app to watch them.
Together, the games and trends sections of the iPad sidebar could make Facebook’s Apple tablet app a place to go especially for entertainment, not just for friends. And by becoming a bigger portal for app downloads, Facebook can create its own little kingdom among the realm of iOS and Android.