Facebook Promotes Mobile Network Operator Partners on the Login Screen

Facebook’s login screen usually accompanies the email and password entry fields with a graphic depicting the social graph or a call to use Facebook’s mobile services. Recently, though, some users in the UK have seen Facebook using this highly visible space to promote third-party mobile network operator partners who are offering free data access to the Facebook for Every Phone mobile feature phone app.

In one example, it announced a “Special Offer from Three UK” and linked to the carrier’s Facebook Page. Placement on the login screen could make partnerships with Facebook more lucrative to third-parties. The site could one day run traditional Facebook ads on the login screen, but that’s unlikely since they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of demographic targeting since viewers would be logged out.

To our knowledge, Facebook has not done login screen promotions before. However, the page gets huge volumes of traffic but only requires half the space for login and signup options, making it a logical spot to show promotions.

The placement for Three UK and possibly other mobile carriers may have come as part of broader partnerships surrounding Facebook for Every Phone. The feature phone app provides users with deep access to Facebook functionality, similar to the site’s official smartphone apps. Facebook struck deals with 17 carriers around the world to give users 90 days of free data access through the app so they try it without paying. In return these carriers can try to upsell users on data services, and apparently be featured on the login screen.

These partnerships are similar to those Facebook has with over 180 mobile operators to provide free access to lightweight mobile site 0.facebook.com. They are likely designed to propel Facebook’s user growth strategy, as access to more features is thought to increase engagement with the service, leading users to invest time and invite friends.

The Three UK promotion, shown to those UK, should increase awareness of the free data offer and lead more people using feature phones on the network to try Facebook for Every Phone. The app officially launched three weeks ago and has since seen massive growth, shooting up from 769,000 to 2.49 million daily active users, according to AppData.

Facebook could dangle to prospect of login screen placement to win over stubborn potential partners in the future. Note that since the promotions points within Facebook, there not much risk of the placement cannibalizing logins.

Don’t expect Facebook to include a sidebar of ads on the home screen, though. These would be limited to IP address geotargeting, making them less relevant than those shown on the site once users are logged in and can be targeted by any of their profile information.

[Thanks to TBG Digital for the tip]