Facebook adds more quality controls for app notifications, gives developers better tracking tools

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By Brittany Darwell

Facebook today announced new quality control measures for canvas app notifications, seeking to maintain the effectiveness of the channel for developers without upsetting users.

Starting Nov. 9, developers will no longer be able to send notifications to users who have not visited an app in the last 28 days. Facebook says engagement drops sharply after this period and increases the risk of an app being flagged as spam. Developers will have to use notifications to promote re-engagement sooner after users access the app rather than relying on it as a way to bring back inactive users.

Also beginning on Nov. 9, developers who send a high volume of notifications will need to maintain a minimum 17 percent click-to-impression ratio. Apps that fall below this ratio may have access to notifications blocked temporarily. As we wrote about Thursday, Facebook says high quality developers are seeing notification clickthrough rates between 25 and 40 percent. Kixeye, for example, has seen 30 percent CTR on notifications it sends War Commander users when their base is attacked. The social network recommends testing new notifications with a small set of an app’s user base to remain below 50,000 sends per week and avoid the additional quality requirements.

Along with the restrictions announced today, Facebook is introducing a new feature to help developers track the performance of notifications. Developers can divide their notifications into groups and measure results separately.

Notifications are one of the channels that Facebook had restricted for social game developers in early 2010 because it generated too much spam. The company relaunched the notifications API in beta for canvas apps in August, this time with more safeguards to prevent developers from abusing the channel. Today’s changes are a continuation of that.