Facebook has dropped two partners, HasOffers and Kontagent, from its mobile ad measurement program for holding onto user data too long, according to AdExchanger’s blog.
Yes, I know – it’s not as sexy a news story as what’s the latest happening with Flappy Bird. But this is news that is actually far-reaching, and affects any game developer who pays for installs to drive traffic to their games in an attempt to reach (and stay in) the Top 10 game charts. (e.g., everyone aside from developer of Flappy Bird).
It is widely acknowledged that the best ad partner to drive installs for apps is Facebook. Only Facebook has the mobile reach through its news feed and targeting capability to really push the needle with game installs. It’s not cheap, but it works (hence why Facebook earns $1.3 billion – more than half its revenues – through mobile today). When Facebook lifts a finger, the mobile game world shakes.
What is not widely known outside the mobile game industry is that everyone uses HasOffers (and to a lesser degree, Kontagent) to track installs. The way it works is that when game developers integrate HasOffers’ SDK into their game, they can create multiple URLs to track an install and download, measuring their tracking campaigns to an exact science. I am not saying HasOffers has a monopoly on app tracking, but everyone I know uses them.
So, when Facebook drops them, it’s big news. It means developers have to scramble to remove HasOffers, and both HasOffers and Kontagent have to scramble to fix the problem.
Facebook stated that their action to remove HasOffers and Kontagent as partners is the result of a routine privacy audit of its mobile marketing partners (MMPs) which determined that both companies were in violation of its data retention and disclosure policies.
I’m sure HasOffers and Kontagent are burning the midnight oil to fix these problems. In the meantime, this is a huge headache for the mobile game marketers who get paid big bucks to spend even bigger bucks to buy game installs.
In the grand scheme of things, this may be even bigger news than Flappy Bird reaching the #1 free game spot on the App Store and Google Play without spending a dime on installs.
See? I couldn’t resist mentioning Flappy Bird one last time.
UPDATE: After intiially posting this article, HasOffers took to their blog to publicly address the issue. You can find their whole response here, but here’s a quote that delivers the tl;dr – “I want to be clear that we did not violate any privacy regulations, and there was no data leakage or inappropriate data provided to advertisers. This has been confirmed by Facebook.”