News / Science & Technology

Facebook Facelift Feeds Mobile Appetite

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a media event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, March 7, 2013.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a media event at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, March 7, 2013.
Reuters
Facebook Inc. introduced the biggest change in years for its popular newsfeed on Thursday, a facelift that renders the social network more ad-friendly while potentially prompting its more than one billion users to spend more time on its website.

The changes to the newsfeed, whose look and feel has remained largely unchanged since its inception, include a division into several sections, with separate areas for photographs and music.

And it comes with a revamped interface that gives more prominence to visual media, such as photos and videos.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg the makeover was part of an effort to position the social network as a "personalized newspaper," complete with different sections for users to explore.

The makeover comes roughly a month after Facebook introduced a new social search feature it dubbed "graph search" that makes it easier for users to discover more content on the social network.

The much-needed changes unveiled on Thursday, which standardize the network's look across different types of desktop and mobile devices, served mainly to bring Facebook up to date as Google+, the much younger competing social network started by Google Inc., begins to incorporate more video and images.

"This is just going to provide more opportunity for people to click around and stick around," said Brian Blau, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner, about the revamped newsfeed.  "The newsfeed was kind of outdated. This sort of brings it up to maybe what's comparable to sort of their competition, and partner sites that are focusing on media and richness."

Facebook's newsfeed, an ever-changing stream of photos, videos and comments uploaded from friends, is the first page most users see upon logging in. It is one of three "pillars" of the service, along with search and user profiles.

The updated newsfeed provides more space for the photos and videos that users share on the network, and provides a more consistent look and feel between the version for PCs and for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The changes will begin rolling out in limited fashion from Thursday, Facebook said.

The last major update to the feature occurred in September 2011. Since then, the company has incorporated ads directly into the feed and has shifted its focus to creating "mobile-first experiences," because more people now access the social network from smartphones and desktops than from desktop computers.

Facebook v. Google

Marketers will be able to fashion more compelling ads thanks to the increased real estate for photos, said Hussein Fazal, the CEO of AdParlor, a firm that helps companies advertise on Facebook.

"Larger images will result in higher click through-rates, a higher level of engagement and better performance,"  Fazal wrote in an email.

Analysts say however the company needs to tread carefully to avoid inundating users' various feeds with advertising, as Facebook tries to sustain a rapid pace of growth that helped it debut on public markets at the highest-ever valuation for a technology company.

The world's largest social network is moving to regain Wall Street's confidence after its botched IPO last year, addressing concerns about its long-term prospects - many of which center on an industry-wide shift toward the use of mobile devices.

Facebook shares, which are still more than a quarter off their IPO price of $38, were up four percent at $28.56 on Thursday afternoon on the Nasdaq.

Facebook and Google, which both got their start on desktop computers, are now managing a transition of their products onto smartphones and tablets, which typically yield less revenue than on PCs.

The two Internet mainstays are also waging a war for revenue in mobile advertising - a market that is still small compared with the traditional desktop but that is growing exponentially.

In terms of overall mobile advertising, Google commanded a 53.5 percent share in 2012, aided by its dominance in search-based ads. Facebook had just 8.4 percent, a distant runner-up, according to estimates from research house eMarketer.

But in terms of mobile display ad sales, Facebook narrowly edges out its rival with 18.4 percent of the market versus Google's 17 percent, the research outfit estimated.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid