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Will Facebook's Apps Contest Jumpstart Its New Advertising Strategy?

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 11, 2008

Facebook has just launched a new voting application that will allow its members to cast votes on which of 25 selected new applications should win funding from its $10 million fbFund. With venture capitalists growing more wary every day of funding just these sorts of startups, it’s no surprise the social network got 600 submissions just since announcing the contest in July. The fund isn’t taking an equity stake, instead giving five winners to be named in December $225,000 each, with no ownership strings attached.

But Facebook has much bigger ambitions here. It’s hoping to show advertisers the appeal of its recently announced engagement ads, which ask a Facebook member to take an action such as leave comments, add the brands to their pages, or send virtual gifts such as shoes or flowers, which then are spread throughout the site on people’s profile pages. “It’s a way to show how sharing and engagement can drive collaborative decisions,” says Elliott Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications, public policy and platform marketing. Or as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it at last week’s Web 2.0 Summit, “Advertising on the Web is less about hitting someone with a message and more allowing a two-way or a multi-way dialogue.”

That’s what they’re hoping, but while Zuckerberg’s company is grossing several hundred million dollars this year, it’s clearly not enough yet to fulfill the stratospheric expectations of Facebook. So far, MySpace continues to outpace Facebook by far in display advertising, according to a June report from comScore. And with social-networking ads considered experimental by many large advertisers—and therefore dispensable in the worsening economy—Facebook’s got an uphill battle here.

Still, you can see the advertising potential inherent in the somewhat dizzying list of the 25 finalists, after the jump. We’ll find out before long if advertisers can see it too.

• BarTab - Send a drink to a friend, with Facebook! BarTab allows users to send real drinks to each other for only $1. Drinks are redeemed through the user’s cell phone at partnered bars and restaurants.

• Black Drumm - Black Drumm develops applications that helps users organize events with friends. Whether it is going to a local concert, or planning a trek on Kilimanjaro, the application seamlessly coordinates offline activities; no more chains of emails to sort through, or spreadsheets to maintain.

• Bottle Rocket - Bottle Rocket helps users pick the perfect bottle of wine. Users can compare wines with friends on Facebook or on the Bottle Rocket iPhone application. Bottle Rocket then analyzes the wines users have liked with ratings from their friends to make informed recommendations.

• Check My Campus - Check My Campus makes the college search process easier, better and more fun. The application allows current college students to share photos and videos about life on their campuses, giving high schoolers an inside look at what real life is like at these different schools.

• Daikon - Daikon enables users to build powerful applications on the Facebook platform without writing a single line of code. Daikon produces applications that focus on increasing the enjoyment and productivity of the Facebook experience.

• Faithfeed - FaithFeed is an application where users can share about their journey of faith with friends. Through the application, users can share praises, prayer requests, resolutions and the details of what God is teaching them. Users can also keep each other accountable and support each other throughout the week.

• Good Call Sports LLC - Good Call Football is an app developed by Good Call Sports that allows users to predict each offensive play during a televised football game, in real time, and compete nationwide based on the accuracy of their predictions.

• GroupCard - GroupCard lets users rally their friends to sign the same printable online card to celebrate any occasion. Each friend can add a message, upload photos or audio, and even make a gift contribution. GroupCard started at Stanford, and is already used by thousands of groups worldwide.

• HitGrab - MouseHunt, a HitGrab creation, is a game of epic proportions. Players are hunters, hired by the king to trap mice that infest his kingdom. For each mouse caught, users will find a reward, bringing them closer to being the best MouseHunter in the land.

• Kontagent - Kontagent is the leading viral analytics platform for social network application developers. Kontagent analytics provides deep social data visualization and analysis that delivers actionable insights delivered via a hosted, on-demand service.

• Koofers - Koofers helps students create and share information that helps with classes. Users can share old tests, quizzes, and study guides; view current and past grade breakdown and average GPA for every class and professor; review professors and read ratings before signing up for new classes, and get help from other students in the same class.

• Newsbrane - Newsbrane recommends news stories and other online content to users based on their interests. Vote items up and down and Newsbrane learns the stories a user wants to see.

• Party Buzz - Party Buzz is your source of information for what’s happening offline amongst your friends. Check out your friend’s events, discuss weekend plans, and find the best parties. Bonus feature: for each event check the median age, guy-to-girl ratio, number of singles, and more!

• Pongr - Pongr is a mobile price comparison service that lets you check prices online and at nearby stores. While shopping, users can share items with their Facebook friends. Pongr mobile apps, texting, and image recognition makes bargain shopping fun!

• ProfessionalProfile - Professional Profile leverages a user's existing social connections into a professional network.

•RealGifts - RealGifts is a social gifting application that allows users to send their friends real, tangible gifts in the mail, without needing to know their friends' delivery address.

• Socialfly - Be twice the friend in half the time! Socialfly lets users write their own notes about people, set reminders to talk to friends, and plan fun activities together. Socialfly will soon be available on both Facebook and the iPhone.

• Teach the People - Teach the People is an open educational platform. Teachers get the tools to share their expertise, allowing their knowledge to go viral, attract an audience, and be monetized effectively. Students get access to high quality, low cost education in Facebook's social environment.

• The Game Creators - The Game Creators built Social Arcade, an application which users get creative and design their own game from shoot-'em-ups to platformers to racing games and more. Users can give friends the gift of a game and even personalize it.

• TrailBehind - TrailBehind helps users find great places to hike. Avid hikers can explore maps, plan trips, log their travels, and work together to build better maps of the outdoors.

• Twenty20 Cricket - Twenty20 Cricket was created for cricket fanatics around the world to connect and share their passion via an exciting online cricket manager game. Users compete to be the best team by training their players, and then challenging their friends and other team managers!

• vDream Racing - vDream would be Henry Ford's favorite application on Facebook. vDream offers users access to real cars, real parts, real performance specs, and the ability to connect and compete with other car enthusiasts.

• WedSnap - WedSnap created Weddingbook, a social network on Facebook for those preparing for a wedding. Brides and grooms meet on Weddingbook to get advice, support, and inspiration during their engagement and wedding planning process.

• Wildfire - Wildfire enables consumers to discover, share and engage with interactive promotions like contests, sweepstakes and give-aways and enables companies to easily create their own attractive, branded promotions that are automatically integrated with Facebook's social features.

Reader Comments

Sanjay Vakil

November 12, 2008 2:40 PM

As a member of the first round of fbFund winners, I can say that Facebook continues to provide an interesting and lucrative environment to play in.

LuckyCal has gained a great deal by taking part:


November 12, 2008 4:28 PM

The common thread to all of the above is the concept of knowledge tangibility. This is the discussion that should lead every story in innovation economics and Social Media right now.

Few people realize that social, creative, and intellectual capital are perfectly suitable assets upon which to peg a currency.

For the most optimistic prediction of the future please read:

It’s not impossible

hazel hunt

November 12, 2008 9:14 PM


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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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