Is Facebook’s Anonymous Login really about user privacy?

 

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 Hayden Skelton from the M2M team takes us through the latest Facebook updates.

A few weeks ago Facebook launched a myriad of market updates, with two of the most significant being Anonymous Login and the Facebook Audience Network (annoyingly being acronymed to FAN, which is bound to cause confusion on a client schedule at some point).

Fuse last week provided some information on FAN, however now the dust has settled and the newswires have given their analysis of each development, it’s an ideal time to delve a little deeper into what the relationship between these two products might be. To give you a brief recap on each;

Facebook Audience Network is going to allow brands to extend the app install ads they already run on Facebook (which generally see an extremely low cost per install, may I add) across other mobile publishers that sit outside of the Facebook ecosystem. App install ads are likely just the start, since they deliver immediately measurable business results for brands, and Facebook has indicated other ad formats will eventually be available too.

Anonymous Login on the other hand, was presented under the guise of being a more consumer facing development, to protect users privacy when using Facebook to log into something. Currently when a user logs in to a third party app with Facebook to validate themselves, their information including emails, friends lists and interests can be shared with the third party app. Logging in via Facebook Anonymous Login, will instead allow a user to prove they’re not a bot, without having to share this information.

Why there’s no denying the former is great for user privacy, we can’t help but feel there’s a financial objective here too, and that there’s a bigger strategic alignment to the release of these products just hours apart from each other, that doesn’t seem to have been captured by the tech blogs. With data no longer being shared by Facebook with third party publishers, this will mean that these platforms will no longer have any information about their users.

Therefore targeting opportunities across publishers that previously relied on the data supplied by Facebook, will diminish. They will be left with having to request user data themselves to allow them to identify the users of their platform. Which if it was to take the form of a sign up page, would certainly cull any prospective growth for a budding platform. I mean when’s the last time a mobile site or app was so interesting you were willing to cognitively give them information about yourself in order to get access to it? (‘Don’t Touch The White Tile’ addicts may disagree).

Enter Facebook, offering to buy ad inventory from other mobile platforms- including those who may soon be struggling to target their users effectively.Facebook will then take their cut as a network, and serve users relevant ads across the third party platform, using the strength of their existing second-to-none targeting capabilities. So in one fell swoop, Facebook presented third party publishers with a problem, and provided the solution, which conveniently delivers the big blue giant more inventory and a further foothold in the growing mobile market.

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Our understanding is FAN will only be offered to existing Facebook advertisers too, i.e. you can only run across FAN as an extension of your on platform Facebook ads- driving further use of their primary product by brands wanting to target mobile users effectively.

Time will tell if these prediction are correct, but if they are it’s a fantastic power play by Facebook, and will result in better mobile targeting and standardised mobile rates since mobile inventory will be aggregated and the market will dictate these more freely and likely get better results as a result of more granular targeting. These are just that however- predictions- and it may very well be that Facebook won’t use their information to target users on a third party platform when logged in anonymously.

However when did Facebook ever overlook a targeting opportunity?

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