Facebook made some updates to their platform late last night, including two changes of significance for developers. First, they updated the developers’ application list with an attribute they are calling “spamminess”. This rating allows developers to see, from Facebook’s perspective, how “spammy” their apps are being with the notifications system. At a certain spamminess level, Facebook apparently cracks down on the app. Until now, this happened without the developer’s knowledge, or being forewarned. This change should allow devs to keep better tabs and modify their apps’ behaviors to conform better to Facebook’s anti-spam goals.
Of much greater significance, Facebook has released a new FBML tag, <fb:google-analytics />, which allows app creators to embed the Google Analytics tracking code for the Analytics account of their choice. Based on my testing this morning, it appears that this tag functions only within the “canvas” page of a Facebook app, not within a user’s Facebook profile itself. Also, it is currently unknown, given that we are on day 1 of the push, what sort of page data is actually returned from within a Facebook canvas page. Facebook does, however, let the developer specify a “page” attribute to force the tracking code to recognize a visit as pertaining to a certain page.
The ability to track user views and movement within an FBML-based Facebook app has been impossible up to this point, so we’re talking about a pretty big move forward. Analytics is an essential step on the road to making the Platform a good base for building businesses around apps. With the possibility of detailed user analysis comes a much higher degree of accuracy in terms of the valuation of a new app, and so I think last night’s push will help heat up the buzz around Facebook app businesses even further.