Facebook just may have gotten a leg up in its race with Google to see which company can come up with creepier ways to collect information on its users. The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is testing out technology that would actually track the mouse cursor movements that users make while they’re visiting the website as a way to watch more subtle interactions than standard clicks. Facebook analytics chief Ken Rudin tells the Journal that Facebook would like to know answers to questions such as “Did your cursor hover over that ad… and was the newsfeed in a viewable area?” Rudin emphasizes that no decision has been made on whether to roll out the cursor-tracking technology although he says that company “will probably know in a couple of months” whether it’s worth deploying.
Facebook’s third-quarter results blew out Wall Street expectations as the company earned $0.25 per share on $2.02 billion in revenue. Though it wasn’t quantified, there’s one number that’s scaring Facebook, and investors: teens using the service less. The company noted that ended the quarter with 1.19 billion monthly active users, 728 million daily active users. But a key segment, teenagers, are engaging with the service less. CFO David Ebersman said that while engagement from U.S. teens was stable from the second to third-quarters, he did note “We did see a decrease in daily users, especially among younger teens.” More →
Facebook delivered 18% growth of monthly active users (MAU) in its most recent quarterly earnings report — no mean feat for a company its size. But the real stunner was the growth of its mobile MAU, which soared by 45% in a year and hit 874 million in September. Mobile ad revenue is now 49% of the company’s total ad revenue. Even though Facebook’s share price has soared from below $20 to $50 in a year, the stock rocketed up by another 15% in the after hours trading as investors reacted to the numbers. The implications are clear: Facebook is about to become a mobile software company. More →
How’s this for a counterintuitive merger: A mobile device company that plans to focus its efforts more on the enterprise market coupled with a consumer-centric social networking giant that has repeatedly said that it has no interest in building its own smartphones? Believe it or not, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that “BlackBerry executives flew to California to meet with Facebook last week to gauge its interest in a potential bid for the struggling smartphone-maker.” More →
If there’s one thing that Silicon Valley executives love more than having fancy product launch parties it’s avoiding taxes by funneling profits through Ireland. Bloomberg has written a profile of the person behind the tech industry’s tax magic, a man by the name of Feargal O’Rourke who heads up the tax division at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Ireland. In all, Bloomberg says that O’Rourke has advised tech giants such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn on ways to stash profits safely away from the tax man by moving them through Ireland, whose government has come under criticism for allegedly enabling tax dodging through the use of tax loopholes designed to attract foreign investment. More →
Good news for everyone who’s been dreading having video ads play when you log into Facebook: It seems Mark Zuckerberg and friends have decided to delay the debut of Facebook video ads until at least 2014. Unnamed sources tell AllThingsD that Facebook has told advertising partners that they shouldn’t expect any video ads to go up this year because Facebook is still trying to figure out how to make them work without annoying its user base. The good news is that Facebook has apparently decided that the autoplay ads won’t have any sound unless users decide to click on them and flip the sound on, AllThingsD reports.
Facebook users who prefer to lurk in the shadows will not be terribly pleased to learn of a new change to Facebook’s privacy settings that is currently in the process of being rolled out. Facebook users until now have had the option to hide their accounts from the website’s search service. Enabling the setting would mean that their profiles would not be included in search results even when people search for them by name. This will no longer be the case once Facebook removes the privacy option in question, however. Facebook says that the new change will only impact a single-digit percentage of its user base, but we’re not sure how comforting that is. Considering Facebook is currently home to about 1.2 billion users, that means this change could impact more than 100 million people around the world.
The fallout from the National Security Agency surveillance scandal hasn’t just hurt trust between American tech companies and foreign governments — it’s also damaged the relationship between American tech companies and their own customers. Per Reuters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this week that revelations about the NSA’s vast data collection practices have made users less likely to trust Facebook and said that the government’s handling of the scandal has been woefully inept. More →
So, you thought you could escape the coming era of auto-play video ads on Facebook by accessing the site through your mobile phone, did you? Well, you’re out of luck. Facebook announced this week that it will bring auto-play videos to its mobile app that wouldn’t play any sound unless users click on them. Although the auto-play videos will be limited to videos from users’ friends and their favorite bands at first, Facebook does say that it wants to bring silent auto-play video ads to its mobile app if they won’t degrade the user experience. Facebook has been experimenting with adding auto-play ads with full sound to users’ pages on its desktop website although it’s apparently still trying to figure out how to add them without driving users crazy.
Are you ready for your Instagram feed to be just as clogged with ads as your Facebook page? If not, then too bad: The Wall Street Journal reports that Instagram will soon start supporting ads anyway. Specifically, the Journal says that former Facebook executive and current Instagram COO Emily White has been leading an effort to generate more revenue for Instagram and that we should expect to start seeing ads on the photo-sharing service within the next year. The Journal says that White’s challenge has been figuring out “how to integrate marketing without jeopardizing Instagram’s cool factor.” Given that Instagram is now competing in the short video-sharing realm with popular services such as Vine, it can ill-afford to alienate users and will have to implement advertisements on the service cautiously.
The people on Facebook who tell you how their friend made $85,000 a year working from home are doing quite well for themselves. The Guardian reports that a team of researchers in Italy estimated that Facebook spam generates around $202 million a year in annual revenue and that spammers get paid between $13 to $58 per post depending on the number of subscribers a particular page has. While many of us find Facebook spammers annoying, the spammers themselves actually told the researchers that Facebook tolerates their presence because they generate more hits for Facebook pages. More →
Facebook’s push to generate more revenues from mobile ads seems to be getting results but not nearly enough to dent Google’s share of total mobile ad revenues. Business Insider points us to new research from eMarketer showing that Google has accounted for 53.2% of all mobile ad revenues so far in 2013, an increase from its 2012 share of 52.4% of all mobile ad revenues. What makes this particularly impressive is that Google has held onto its share of mobile ad revenues even as Facebook has seen its share of mobile ad revenues surge from 5.4% in 2012 to 15.8% in 2013. In other words, it seems as though Facebook’s rise in mobile ad revenues is much like Bing’s growth in the search market: It’s taking away shares from smaller players but not doing anything yet to hurt the dominant market leader.