Facebook’s effort to make the mobile web less frustrating is gaining momentum. Only 3 1/2 months since introducing App Links, its open-source platform for deep linking within mobile apps, Facebook says more than three billion urls have been updated to work in the system.
A month ago that total was said to be one million. The pace is being picked up by what Facebook says is now hundreds of app developers using the system. That means fewer people are experiencing this maddening scenario: tap on, say, a Pinterest link on a smartphone and be taken to a mobile browser page, instead of the appropriate place within the installed Pinterest mobile app.
Facebook product manager Vijay Shankar said too many users give up at that point.
“It’s a frustrating experience any time people click on a link and it takes them to Safari,” Shankar said in news briefing today in San Francisco. “People actually want to take action, they are ready to go do something, the intent is there but the experience is broken.”
App Links aims to fix the problem. And to make it more enticing for developers to adopt the standard, Facebook announced several improvements to the platform today:
- App Links analytics: App Links now includes support for three different analytics tools including Facebook Insights, Parse Analytics and Mixpanel, to measure traffic associated with the integration. Developers can also build their own analytics solutions using the open-source system.
- Improved Windows Phone support: App Links now supports Windows 8 and universal Windows apps.
- Back button Android support: Enabled support for back button on Android devices so developers can better understand returning traffic that comes via App Links.
Also, to better communicate about App Link developments, Facebook has created a blog on the AppLinks.org site, and its first post explains today’s update in detail.
For marketers the benefits of widespread adoption of the standard are clear. Any content that uses App Links will be more accessible to mobile phone users. And that includes advertising, the same plumbing that works for organic content can be used to serve links within ads.
“Ads on mobile have a lot of catching up to do, and this is going to help with that,” Shankar said. “Anyone who relies on ads in the mobile ecosystem in general can take advantage of it.”
E-commerce developers are also interested in tapping the system’s potential, Shankar said, and have inquired about enabling affiliate referral programs. Shankar said that is supported and that Facebook and its AppLinks.org partners are willing to adjust the system.
“We are basically trying to make any use cases that apps want to unlock possible,” he said. “For example if e-commerce apps want to test out the affiliate model, and they want to request a change to the standard to make it work better, we want to do that.”
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