Zynga turns on Facebook cross-promotion for partner game Woodland Heroes

Zynga takes the first step in promoting games published through its partner programs today by adding Row Sham Bow’s Woodland Heroes to the Facebook cross-promotion bar that appears above Zynga games.

Adding a game to the zBar, as Zynga called the tool, seems like a small thing compared to what Zynga wants to accomplish in publishing third party games on Zynga.com. Cross-promotion bars have been thoroughly explored by 6waves, Applifier and Tapjoy (which acquired AppStrip) on both social and mobile — and 6waves has a sizable head start on Facebook games publishing. But Zynga has two features that other cross-promotion networks lack: brand recognition and size (65 million daily active users and 292 million monthly active users on both social and mobile as of Q1 2012). Both of those are key factors driving interest from smaller developers in the Zynga publishing platform.

As detailed on Zynga’s blog today, publishing partner head Rob Dyer says that Zynga intends to drive traffic and test promotions during this early beta phase to see what impact it has on Zynga’s network as a whole — and what impact Zynga’s network will have on an individual game.

“Driving players to try out new social games is one thing, but the trick is making sure they stick around,” Dyer’s post reads. “That’s where some of our upcoming tools to increase social engagement come in.”

The Zynga partner program is still a mystery to outsiders. We do know that the revenue share between publisher and developer is the traditional 30/70 percent split — after Facebook takes its 30 percent cut of Credits transactions. We also know that of the companies Zynga has announced so far — Row Sham Bow, Mob Science, Sava Transmedia, Konami, Rebellion and Playdemic — two have long term experience with the Facebook platform and two do not currently have any Facebook games announced.

Here’s what we don’t know: Will the publishing platform create sustainable games on Facebook and mobile, or will it serve as a hunting ground for Zynga’s next acquisition prospects? We can infer from Dyer’s blog post that Zynga will take a hands-on approach to helping publishing partners refine their games, not unlike what RockYou once did for Playdemic. We’re also reasonably sure Zynga will extend its publishing operations to mobile at some point in the future — but it’s unclear if that will operate through a mobile version of its Zynga.com platform.

Woodland Heroes is Intersouth Partners-backed Row Sham Bow’s first Facebook game. It launched in October 2011 and peaked at 190,000 monthly active users and 20,000 daily active users in that same month, according to our AppData traffic tracking service.