ISA 2011: Live-Blogging Monetization & Customer Acquisition on the Facebook Platform

In our third panel of the day, Inside Network editor Eric Eldon is moderating a panel on monetization, platform growth and Facebook Credits.

The panelists:

Deb Liu, Commerce Product Marketing, Facebook
Kevin Chou, Co-founder & CEO, Kabam
Rex Ng, Co-founder & CEO, 6waves
Jens Begemann, Founder & CEO, Wooga

EE: What has changed on the Facebook platform from a year ago to today?

RN: I think the notifications changes hit pretty hard, and you can see the results in DAU. We haven’t done as badly because we have a lot of games on the network, and smaller, niche games have also done OK.

KC: When we saw the shift in messaging features, we started to focus on content that appealed to a very specific set of people on Facebook. We really wanted to say, how do we create content for a very specific type of audience for whom there’s very little gaming content they want to engage with? We purposely didn’t design many viral features in, and that served us well. It became a big challenge to find that audience, but once we did it was a nice business.

EE: What were features that Facebook changed that really made a difference in 2010?

KC: We purposely said, if we’re going to make a core game mechanic, let’s not design it around a social channel, because we want that mechanic to be totally a content experience instead of wrapping it around a communication channel that may or may not be useful.

JB: Bookmarks are now more prominent — if you play a game more often, it moves up on the bookmark bar. That’s one of those things, if you don’t spam people, but they want to play, they’ll click on that bookmark.

EE: Rex, your business is a bit different, you distribute games. How has that changed? Do you consider cross-promo bars competitive?

RN: Not really. The difference between us and them is that we drive a lot of users into a game very quickly, where they’re slower. A lot of developers are using them to trickle traffic in for testing.

EE: How are other markets developing?

JB: At Wooga, we’re extremely strong in Europe, and in 2010 Facebook grew a lot in key countries for us. It looks like 50 percent of the population is becoming Facebook users, that is the magic number. In those countries where it’s less, that’s where the growth is coming:

RN: Right now our traffic is pretty balanced in Europe, the USA and Asia. I think there are emerging markets, and the games there have higher virality and retention, so it’s easier to go into those countries, and I’m bullish on there being more and more of those.

EE: Which countries will be big in 2011?

RN: I actually like eastern Europe. A lot of the western European games would actually transfer very well.

KC: We’re interested in international growth, but it can also be distracting to chase new markets. As we think of the core gaming markets and the 18-34 male, we’re most interested in North America as a huge market that we just want to serve better and better. As we look at priorities, we think about, not just how much will it cost us for localization and customer support, but how much does it slow down development? How much do those other versions of the game lag behind? That’s a tradeoff that’s easy to overlook. We do have a significant and growing portion of our revenue overseas, but we see a big opportunity at home too.

EE: Deb, how do you feel about it at Facebook?