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MySpace and Facebook boost for developers

New advertising programmes launched

MySpace and Facebook have both announced plans to make it easier for developers to make money from applications they build for the popular social networks.

MySpace, which officially launched its MySpace Development Platform at the beginning of February, announced that it will allow third-party developers to use two different MySpace advertising programs to market their applications.

See MySpace opens developer platform here

Amit Kapur, COO of MySpace, said that the company plans to allow developers to use both its Hypertargeting and Self Serve programs as part of a third phase of opening its platform to developers. Previously, the programs were open only to companies to advertise their products or services to MySpace users.

Kapur, who did not provide details on when developers could gain access to the programs, made the announcement at the O'Reilly Graphing Social Patterns (GSP) West 2008 conference.

SelfServe allows users to create customised advertisements with a new ad creation tool and Hypertargeting allows advertisers to connect with specific user groups based on the interests they express in their MySpace user profiles.

"Application developers are businesses - maybe not today as much [as other businesses] but that is definitely coming in over time," Kapur added. "Application developers need to promote their products. They need to drive traffic."

Hypertargeting, Kapur noted, has already helped some advertisers boost click through rates by 300 percent. "The MySpace Hypertargeting programme uses sophisticated machine learning tools to analyse all the information provided by users including the background themes they choose for their profiles and the photos they post to their blogs to identify which products or services the user may be interested in," he added.

"Hypertargeting takes a look at publicly available data and places users into highly targetable interest groups," Kapur said. "While other advertising networks guess about who the user is, we know who the user is. We are going to look to facilitate developers putting these ad types on their pages so we can serve ads on their behalf."

For its part, Facebook announced new efforts to help convince third-party developers to create more applications to run on its site. To date, the company said that more than 98 percent of the site's 66 million users have used at least one of the 16,000 applications created for Facebook by third-party developers, noted Benjamin Ling, Facebook's director of platform product marketing.

Ling said that Facebook plans to allow developers to accept credit card payments for Facebook-based e-commerce applications.

"From a user perspective, once they've entered their credit card information, they never have to do it again," he said. "[Developers] can experiment with a variety of new applications and try things they haven't been able to do before."

Ling did not disclose when Facebook would begin allowing developers to begin accepting credit cards.

He also announced that Facebook would allow developers to access the same translation tools the social network used to provide a Spanish version of its site so developers could translate their applications to different languages.

Ling said that these moves represent the latest attempt by the social network to help developers make money from their Facebook-based applications and to provide the best experience possible to its users. For example, last month Facebook announced a new policy that prohibits from its site applications that require users to invite other friends to use before they can use it, Ling noted.

"There is a subset of application developers who are relying on a short-term focus and trying to leverage the social graph and behave in ways that aren't in the long term benefit of the users," he said. "It is bad for the ecosystem. The challenge that we're issuing to application developers is how to make sure that your applications are highly relevant and engaging."

Facebook last month also announced plans to redesign its profile pages to more prominently display the third-party applications.


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