Platform Update: Credits Insights, Platform Policies, App to User Request Messages

Amongst a flurry of announcements about changes to games on its platform, Facebook recently updated the Developers Blog regarding the addition of a new Insights analytics tab for Facebook Credits. The latest Platform Update also included announcements about how app-to-user request notifications will now show the notification’s message; new capabilities for the Graph API, activity and recommendation plugins, and the Graph API Explorer; as well as clarifications of two Facebook Platform Policies.

Developers of Facebook apps that use Facebook Credits will now or soon see a Credits tab in their Insights dashboard. Credits Insights graphs the information developers receive in their daily Credits reports, name spend, chargebacks, and refunds. Developers can select date ranges for these graphs, compare time periods, and export data in XLS or CSV format.

Credits Insights, accessible to those with the Administrator role on a given app, will help developers determine how effectively their apps and games are monetizing. The Insights graphs are more efficient for determining the impact of design changes or market forces on monetization than the more momentary Credits reports. With time, Facebook may add more data to Credits Insights that could help developers better understand who is spending within their apps, and what is convincing them to make purchases.

Facebook quietly changed some important Platform Policies recently, banning promotion of apps on some types of competing social platforms and restricting how developers can reward their users. In the Platform Update, it announced two smaller deletions from its policy document:

FPP IV.4: You must provide users with an easily identifiable “skip” option whenever you present users with an option to use a Facebook social channel.

Apps no longer have to include a skip option because apps must always obtain user consent before posting on their behalf.

FPP IV.5: You must not provide users with the option to publish more than one Stream story at a time.

This deletion permits apps to let users publish to the walls of multiple friends simultaneously. Group communication, group buying, multi-player gaming, and other types of apps will now be able to let users choose multiple recipients for a wall post rather than put users through several redundant share steps.

The policy was likely put in place initially to reduce the potential for wall post spam. However, Facebook has been refining its app quality ranking system such that apps that publish posts that are frequently hidden or marked as spam will receive fewer impressions of their news feed content and risk suspension. Facebook apparently sees these repercussions as adequate to discourage spam.

App to user Request notifications that appear in the Apps and Games Dashboards now include the message originally included with the Request, making them a more effective method for developers to communicate with their users and ping them with calls to action. Before, these notifications didn’t include the message. The change could increase the conversion rate on app-to-user Requests. The counters for pending Requests will also appear in the new Games Ticker.

Developers using Facebook’s Activity or Recommendations plugins now have the option to prevent old or outdated content from appearing in the plugins. The  max_age field lets developers set the number of days within which a URL must have been created to be eligible for display within the plugin.

For example, ‘0’ would make all stories show up regardless of URL creation date similar to how the plugin worked before, whereas ’14’ would require the URL to have been created in the last two weeks. The option will make the plugins more useful to developers of sites focused on breaking news or other real-time content.

The Graph API Explorer now permits developers to quickly generate access tokens for one of the apps they admin. This will make it easier to test APIs that require users to grant permissions to an app.

Rather than using the legacy REST API, developers can now determine if a user Likes a Page using the Graph API call:

https://graph.facebook.com/me/likes/PAGE_ID
&access_token=ACCESS_TOKEN

This could help apps determine if a user is eligible to see fan-only content protected by a Like-gate.