Facebook Unveils Cross-Platform Tools, Plans To Stop Breaking Things

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f8Over the last decade, Facebook has evolved from a forum for college students to poke each other to a company trying to position itself as a maturing, cross-device communication platform for marketers and consumers.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg certainly hopes this maturation is reflected in the company’s evolving slogan, from “move fast and break things” to the more staid “move fast with stable infra.”

While buzz around Facebook’s f8 Developer Conference largely focused on its mobile ad network, the Facebook Audience Network, the company also revealed an assortment of cross-platform tools.

App Links, for instance, is an open-source SDK for app-to-app deep linking intended to work across different platforms like Apple, Google and Windows operating systems. A number of vendors have already signed on to use the standard, including Spotify, Dropbox, Pinterest, Hulu, Flixter, Vimeo and Flickr.

The company also unveiled a mobile "like" button that users can click to share pieces of content from an app on Facebook and allow apps to receive more earned exposure. Facebook will show app publishers the number of people who have liked their content, but it is unclear how many impressions each "like" will receive and how Facebook will determine who sees the shared content.

In addition, Facebook also introduced a push notification to drive app installs through the Facebook login. If a website owner also owns an app, he or she can give people who log into the website through the Facebook login the opportunity to receive a push notification that will take them to the App Store or Google Play to install the app.

It’s unknown how well these new ad products will perform and whether they will strengthen Facebook’s position as a cross-platform company. One year ago Facebook was emphasizing its push to simplify its ad products. Now it has a new stable of ad tools for app developers and marketers to experiment with.

Dan Sapozhnikov, co-founder of AdGate Media, which helps app developers monetize their content through incentivized offers, said that Facebook is going in the right direction with its new ad products, particularly for retargeting campaigns.

“Retargeting on mobile is not yet as commonplace as on the desktop,” Sapozhnikov said. “This move, along with the release of AppLinks, will help us and other advertisers recreate successful retargeting campaigns for mobile users.”

Given that 68% of Facebook’s monthly active users, and 59% of its ad revenue, in Q1 2014 came from mobile, it’s no surprise much of Facebook’s development focuses on that particular channel. Of course, mobile isn’t the be-all, end-all and Facebook has also beefed up its Atlas software, which it acquired from Microsoft.

Put it together and Facebook certainly seems to back up its commitment to, in its own words, “stable infra.”

Zuckerberg, during his keynote, said consumers and app developers want products that work across multiple platforms and that it’s “really annoying” when you have to “build the same thing three, four or five times just because of these different stacks.”

Facebook’s goal, he said, is to “build the cross-platform platform and provide all of the tools that you need to bridge these different worlds.”

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