Meta Aims to Enable Direct App Downloads Via Facebook Ads in the EU

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Will Young

The social media giant, Meta, is on track to expand its boundaries, eyeing a new opportunity in the app distribution domain. This move will pave the way for Meta to potentially rival tech behemoths Google and Apple’s app stores. Specifically, the company is developing plans to allow Facebook users within the European Union to directly download apps via Facebook ads.

Anticipated to kick off with a trial run involving a select group of Android app developers later this year, the move signifies Meta’s strategic adaptation to the forthcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA). The DMA, scheduled to take effect next spring, identifies Google and Apple as “gatekeepers” and necessitates the opening of their mobile platforms to alternate app downloading methods.

Although Android technically supports sideloading – the practice of installing apps from sources other than the official app store – Google makes the process rather challenging. The difficulty arises from the coupling of in-app billing and licensing with the Play Store and the intimidating warnings displayed when users attempt to download an Android app from a non-official source. Evidently, Meta’s decision to initiate this pilot on Android over Apple’s iOS reflects a cautious approach to leverage this new opportunity.

Under Meta’s innovative model, developers would host their Android apps, allowing Facebook users to directly download them without redirecting to the Play Store. The projected outcome is higher conversion rates for their app install ads. Furthermore, Meta plans to abstain from taking a share of the in-app revenue from participating apps, at least in the initial stages. As such, developers in the pilot phase would retain the freedom to choose their preferred billing systems.

Meta’s spokesperson, Tom Channick, confirmed the plan, stating, “We’ve always been interested in helping developers distribute their apps, and new options would add more competition in this space. Developers deserve more ways to easily get their apps to the people that want them.” Google has yet to comment on the matter.

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Notably, Meta is not alone in expressing interest in app distribution ahead of the EU’s DMA implementation. Earlier this year, in March, Microsoft expressed its aspirations to launch an alternate app store for games on iOS and Android in Europe by next year.

Ultimately, the potential changes in the app distribution landscape pose exciting new possibilities for developers and users alike. Should Meta’s pilot succeed, we could see a significant transformation in how apps are distributed and monetized. It could also spur more competition and innovation, offering greater choices for developers to reach their audience and for users to discover new apps.

Stay tuned as we continue to track this emerging story and the broader changes in the app distribution landscape.

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