Facebook policy change on mobile ads causing behind-the-scenes brouhaha

An extensively researched report from VentureBeat uncovers not just unannounced changes to how Facebook handles mobile ad data -- but a major kerfuffle with game publishers.
"Facebook does not and has no plans to require advertisers, or mobile measurement partners acting on an advertiser’s behalf, to send us post-install data from their mobile app to understand the life-time value of their ads."

- Facebook spokesman Mike Manning

That above quote comes in response to an investigation on the part of VentureBeat that's well worth reading. It's all because of proposed and significant changes to Facebook's rules around user-targeting and device-level ad data that are set to go into effect on November 4.

This is potentially a big deal -- because a lot of mobile game publishers have come to rely on Facebook ads to drive installs to their games. This is a position the social networking company has deliberately put itself into as direct revenues from desktop-based games on the platform dry up as the world transitions to mobile.

The short of it is this: Facebook has quietly informed publisher partners of plans to change its policies around what data they're allowed to collect. It doesn't stop there, though: The platform is also planning to require publishers (who rely on Facebook to drive installs to their mobile games) to share their data with Facebook, VentureBeat's sources say. The changes will also affect third-party advertising services that scrape data from Facebook, too.

According to VentureBeat, publishers fear that Facebook will take this data and sell it to competitors -- meaning that those competitors will then be able to target their most lucrative users. This expectation, of course, is exactly the opposite of the quote above; publishers who've spoken to Facebook maintain that -- whatever is being said by the company publicly -- a data "land-grab" is in the cards.

If you rely on Facebook for mobile game installs -- or you're considering doing so -- the full report is a must-read.

UPDATE, July 10, 2015:

Facebook provided Gamasutra with an expanded statement from Manning, denying the changes, as described in the VentureBeat story, are in the cards:

"There is no truth to the assertion that Facebook is telling advertisers to share post-install data from their mobile app with Facebook rather than any of our mobile measurement partners, nor do we encourage them to share data in the way that VentureBeat describes. The primary claims in VentureBeat's article are based on misinformation. Our services are designed with privacy in mind, and we have very clear terms and policies requiring app developers to provide notice to, and obtain consent from, their users about the way that they collect data and how it is used."

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