Facebook apps are a cesspool of advertising

Earlier this week, Last.fm did some cleaning up around their server rooms. It looks like they’re preparing for their upcoming growth with Xbox 360 integration. They also added some more methods to their APIs. They also decided to close down their Facebook apps.

The reasoning is simple enough; they don’t want to work on apps that might be redundant anyway. They have a whole user community that can do that for them.

Since I’m the kind of narcissist that enjoys letting people know what I’m listening to all the time I began my search for a new last.fm Facebook app. I landed on Last.fm Profile.

Last.fm Profile works well enough. Some things it does even better than Last.fm’s own Facebook apps. But the installation is ripe with problems, and it’s all about ads.

Look at this screenshot:

I hate Facebook apps #1

The top three links lead you to your profile, options for the app, and Destroy Your Friends – which seems like a link for the Spymaster app advertised below it. Only after all this stuff do you get to the actual meat of why you’re even on this page.

Same thing happens in this screen where you’re setting up the Last.fm Profile Box so that this information is available on your profile as a tab.

I hate facebook apps #2

The problem with many Facebook apps are the ads. It’s not that they’re there, it’s that they’re placed at the expense of holding a users hand during the app setup. Inline ads, like the Destroy Your Friends link, are clearly not meant to promote a product or help users. They’re meant to trick users into clicking on something they don’t even want.

This doesn’t help the user. It doesn’t help the advertiser. It only helps the publisher.

I don’t recall Last.fm’s official apps ever having this problem. They make their money on their own site, and they don’t do it through inline ads. Sure, they do the freemium thing, but free accounts have ads placed outside the content they’re looking at.

It seems that most Facebook app developers don’t have a method to generate income – so they compromise their apps this way.

That’s discouraging – why should an app that’s meant to share your Xbox 360 Gamercard with your friends announce that you may have a secret admirer?

App devs – I’m not sure of the best way to make money with your apps. You work hard on them, you have to host and maintain them. It costs time and money to provide these apps. If they’re good and people get enjoyment out of them you should be compensated in some way (monetarily or not).

But the best way to mess all this up is to make your app at the expense of the experience you provide your users. As soon as something better and more respectful of the experience comes along they’re gone.