Facebook appears to be leaving the door open to advertising on it new Camera app, which the company will release later today for iPhone users. When asked if the app would have advertising, a Facebook rep said, "Our focus in building [Camera] was to give people a better Facebook photos experience by making it easier to share and view photos on the go. And while we can't speak to future plans, today there are no ads within the product."
Whether or not Facebook can grow ad revenue via mobile - as digital consumers shift from desktop to handheld devices - has been one of the major investor concerns since the Menlo Park, CA-based firm went public late last week.
On a purely product level, it's interesting to see Facebook release a photo-sharing app with filters just five weeks after purchasing Instagram for $1 billion. Facebook Camera, for the most part, appears to be extremely similar to Instagram, which is also being treated as a standalone app.
Facebook, which began distributing ads via its main mobile app in February, may have designs on creating an in-house mobile network of sorts by diversifying its apps portfolio. After the Instagram purchase, Janet Sternberg, communication and media studies professor at Fordham University, suggested that additional apps within Facebook's marketing platform would likely drive up Facebook ad prices while also making it more attractive to brands.
"These new indirect connections to social media systems beyond Facebook will allow Facebook to claim even wider reach and larger audiences for advertisers," she told ClickZ at the time. "Keeping Instagram as a separate system allows Facebook to place ads in two different social media venues, thereby doubling the potential visibility and giving advertisers a 'two-for-one' bargain."
Whether Facebook Camera ends up creating a three-for-one bargain remains to be seen. What's obvious now, though, is that the team behind CEO Mark Zuckerberg has mobile in its crosshairs. On May 18, the same day as Facebook's IPO, it bought Karma, a mobile app that facilitates social gifting and e-commerce.
And earlier this year, Facebook purchased mobile photo sharing firm Lightbox, local loyalty platform Tagtile, and Glancee, a system that alerts users when people with similar interests are nearby.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
March 19, 2014