‘Facebook’s absence from China, lack of mobile ads and dependence on game revenue raise long-term questions for investors.‘
Facebook Inc. has opened its books to eager investors, but some don’t like what they see.
Profit margins have been shrinking. Costs have been rising. And the stock structure means that founder Mark Zuckerberg controls 57% of the voting shares, giving him near-dictatorial power over the company’s future.
Other potential problems: Facebook does not operate in China, the world’s largest social networking market. The company’s regulatory filing this week also showed that it makes little money from advertising on mobile devices, which may soon be the primary way users access the Internet and visit social networks.
"Mobile advertising simply doesn’t have the legs that online advertising has," said Nate Elliott, an analyst at Forrester Research. "If all the users moved to mobile, there’s no guarantee they could make anything like what they’re making now."
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Facebook has made multiple changes around games: greater discovery as well as engagement with games stories in the News Feed, a games Timeline unit, the addition of a prominent link to app requests on the homepage, a games-only activity feed, and changes to the live ticker.
More specifically, here’s what’s new:
- Enabling social discovery of games through News Feed: after launching games stories on mobile, Facebook is now doing the same on the desktop; users will see stories that list games their friends are playing the most. Facebook hopes these stories will bring new users and significant re-engagement to games. If you’re a developer, you can track referral traffic from these stories (app insights => Open Graph => Action: Play).
- Showcasing games on Timeline: all users now have the option to have their games activity appear on Timeline via a new unit that shows a user’s top game activity over a given period of time. This Timeline unit highlights the games users play the most, as well as top scores and achievements, allowing for quick re-engagement for the user and discovery among friends.
- Outstanding App Request on the home page: Facebook is testing a new link to outstanding games and apps requests on the upper right corner of the home page, in the hopes to increase visibility and thus drive more traffic to games and apps.
- Games-only activity feed: Facebook is also testing a new games-only feed with friends’ game activity (Apps and Games dashboard => Apps and Games bookmark in the left hand navigation => Friend Activity).
- Updating the games and apps ticker: Facebook has found the live ticker alongside games and apps has not been a substantial driver of traffic and so it is experimenting with removing the current version of the ticker on games and apps Pages. Facebook is exploring other ways to improve and simplify the games experience. Bookmarks on games and apps pages still drive significant traffic and re-engagement, so they’re here to stay.
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