MENLO PARK -- Facebook is planning an event next week to show off a new look for its signature "News Feed" page, in the latest of several moves the company has made to bolster its business and keep users coming back to the social networking site.
While Facebook isn't saying what the revamped News Feed will look like, some industry insiders are speculating it will place greater emphasis on showing photos and video, in larger sizes and new formats, to desktop, tablet and smartphone users. News Feed is the page where Facebook users find a continuous stream of posts and updates from their friends.
A new design for News Feed could encourage users to visit
Advertisers want to include bigger photos and video in their commercial messages, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told financial analysts in January, but Facebook has held off on selling those ads because it doesn't want them to look jarringly different from the content that's posted by users
"We want to make News Feed richer," Zuckerberg said, using an industry term for content that includes photos, video and animated graphics. By allowing users to post more of that content, he added, Facebook will be able to offer advertisers
Although it's constantly testing new features, Facebook last announced a major update of News Feed almost 18 months ago. The new design, which Facebook plans to show reporters and analysts on Thursday, comes less than two months after the company introduced another new feature, Graph Search, which lets users look for photos, recommendations and other information shared by more than 1 billion people who use the social network around the world.
Facebook's growth has slowed in North America and Europe, where a high percentage of Internet users have already joined the social network, but the company wants to keep those users active and engaged.
The company has also made several moves recently to boost revenue by giving advertisers new ways to target users based on their web-browsing and shopping habits, and to measure their ads' effectiveness. Facebook says it encrypts individual user data so it doesn't share names or other private information when marketers deliver targeted messages.
Last week, Facebook announced partnerships with several companies, including Acxiom and BlueKai, which track consumers' retail purchases by using data from store loyalty cards and other sources. Earlier this week, Facebook announced it had purchased Atlas, an online advertising service that helps companies track whether customers have seen their ads on Facebook or other websites.
By making it easier to measure the effectiveness of Facebook ads, the company will be able to charge advertisers higher rates, analyst Colin Sebastian of Baird Equity Research wrote in a report this week.
Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey