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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Social Media

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Facebook to lure users with face-lift
Somini Sengupta
San Francisco, March 07, 2013
First Published: 23:11 IST(7/3/2013)
Last Updated: 23:12 IST(7/3/2013)

Facebook plans to announce on Thursday a substantial redesign of its News Feed - a makeover aimed at both keeping users glued to the social network and luring more advertising dollars.

Company executives have broadly said they want to make the News Feed, the first page every user sees upon logging in, more relevant.

In an earnings call with Wall Street analysts in January, the company's founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, offered some hints of what a reimagined News Feed might look like: bigger photos, more videos and "more engaging ads."

"Advertisers want really rich things like big pictures or videos, and we haven't provided those things historically," Zuckerberg said at the time.

Facebook declined to comment on the redesign, which is scheduled to be announced at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California. But the adjustments will reflect the tricky balance Facebook faces now that it is a public company: to keep drawing users to the site while not alienating them with more finely targeted advertisements, which is Facebook's chief source of revenue.

The pressures are acute, given Facebook's still anemic performance on Wall Street. It came out of the box last May with an extraordinarily high valuation of $38 a share, which slumped to half last fall, and has remained for the most part under $30.

"They have to walk a fine line between the user's needs and advertiser's needs," said Karsten Weide, an analyst with IDC. The user, he went on, could use "better, more intelligent filtering," while the advertiser needs "smarter, more flexible advertising formats."

Facebook's challenge is all the more important considering some warning signs of boredom. Earlier this year came worrying news that 61% of users had taken a sabbatical from the social network, sometimes for months at a time; boredom was one of the reasons cited in the survey by the Pew Research Center. Even worse, 20% had deactivated their account entirely.


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