Facebook recently revealed a new ‘skin’ for smartphones; a family of apps that integrate users’ Facebook accounts into their phones, referred to as Facebook Home. Currently the feature is offered on a select few models within the popular Android phone range; the HTC One, One X, Samsung Galaxy SIII, S4 and Note II, although rumours suggest that a hacker has made it possible to install it on any Android-supported mobile device. The move seems to be another step towards the full integration of Facebook with the item used most in our daily lives, allowing for a number of possibilities to collect users’ data and deliver ads to consumers.
Who will be collecting the data?
Facebook Home looks like quite a useful and well-crafted add-on to replace the standard lock screen; incorporating friends’ updates into the home screen via a Cover Feed and making chats and messages available alongside any other activity being engaged in on the phone. But it can’t be as simple as that now can it? If you are wondering how this will benefit the largest social network in the world, besides making itself even more visible to its users, it just might be the case that all the personal data that Google has been collecting via Android till now could instead be sent to Facebook.
The simple move of interconnecting Home with the phone’s lock screen creates a powerful tool, preventing users from ever actually needing to leave their home screen and open other applications. This can definitely come in handy for marketers looking for ways to lure consumers into using their services more often; they can send Facebook messages to contacts instead of emails, or follow up on check-ins to locations by posting updates with geo-specific data that is automatically connected with personal profile information, all of which will be directly delivered to the user without requiring them to open an app first.
Facebook has made all this possible with just a flick of the finger, essentially floating above the phones’ deeper content. By bypassing services that allow Google to acquire personal information, crucial for its targeted ad delivery services, Facebook is cunningly overtaking in user-specific data collection, all while using its rival’s mobile OS. How will Google react to all this? It is yet to be seen.
Can this be beneficial for the travel industry?
The battle for gathering more information on users is a never-ending one, with different platforms providing different user-specific ads. Now that Facebook could possibly overtake a chunk of Google’s data, it is definitely useful for marketers to think twice before deciding on advertising platforms to select for their next marketing campaigns. What will surely be interesting to follow closely in the future is how Facebook Home will deliver ads to the lock screen.
Facebook has already proven to have huge demographics available, especially for targeted marketing purposes, which can be very useful in planning digital ad campaigns. With the ability to select the types of users that will see promotions, it can be a strong tool in making the decisions on how to approach potential travellers, providing a set of statistics collected in the market of interest. This means that if you are going to create a campaign that is, for example, concentrated on festivals happening in your destination, you could select younger travellers and deliver the information right to them, without having to spend your assets on consumers not relevant for the specific events.
Thus Facebook Home can be a valuable tool for destinations and tourism organisations; providing an always-on platform to communicate with a defined target audience. Additionally, given Facebook’s recently strengthened emphasis on images, which will be reflected in the Home’s Cover Feed, organisations’ visual content can play a big role in inspiring consumers, right on their phones’ lock screens.
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