Commentary

Facebook Says "JK" On Withholding Mobile Data

Facebook’s recent policy change on mobile measurement ran afoul of some of its publishing and developer partners, leading to a rare climb-down for the social media titan this week.

Back in May Facebook hinted that it would stop giving third-party measurement partners access to various data about users’ mobile activity effective November 4, including device-level data that helps determine the effectiveness of the publishers’ mobile advertising on Facebook, sparking an outcry among publishers who use Facebook to distribute their products.

According to GamesBeat, which first reported the story beginning last month, publishing partners feared that Facebook’s new policy would either force them to give up mobile advertising efforts altogether, or make them hand over their own proprietary data about app installation to Facebook in order to determine ROI for individual devices. The publishing partners worried that Facebook could then use this data to enable other publishers to target the same users in similar fashion (for a price, of course), stealing their customers and potentially violating consumer privacy as well.

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Now Facebook has announced that it is scrapping the new policy, according to a follow-up report by GamesBeat.

In a statement provided to GamesBeat, Facebook spokesperson Mike Manning explained: “While we believe device-level reporting is not the most accurate way to properly determine advertising effectiveness, we want to provide advertisers with the choice to measure ads based on what is important to them. In order to provide that choice, we will continue giving advertisers the option to receive device-level reporting from our mobile measurement partners for mobile app ads.”

However, given Facebook’s well-established incremental approach to doing exactly what it wants, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s working on some other way of achieving the same goal of finding out which app conversion strategies are working best -- perhaps by getting the users to “voluntarily” supply the data themselves?

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