Apr 29, 2015 · 2 minutes

Facebook has found another way to monetize the 4 billion videos it streams each day: showing install advertisements for desktop games and applications.

The company announced yesterday that a group of select partners will be able to create install ads, which allow Facebook users to download or use whatever software is being hawked, that will play on its desktop website. (Only one of those partners, Plamee, was revealed in the announcement.)

Facebook was previously criticized for offering few details on how it plans to monetize the billions of videos it streams to customers each day. Later it was revealed that some editorial sites would create ads for the company; now it's bringing these install ads, which were previously available on mobile, home.

Yet that might not be the only reason these install ads were brought to Facebook's site. The feature might also be a way for the company to stave off the decline in social games, which for years have done nothing but plummet in popularity, as VentureBeat notes in its report on the announcement:

Intelligence firm SuperData Research said this month that the social-games market has been in a constant decline since its May 2012 peak, with the segment down 10 percent in revenues over last year and 42 percent down from the peak. The increasing adoption of mobile gaming has Facebook’s biggest desktop titles slowing down. Chief executive and lead analyst Joost van Dreunen says current spending patterns indicate a year-over-year decline of 7 percent for social gaming in 2015.
Games provide an easy revenue stream. There's a reason why companies like them so much: it's not up to them to develop the games, another company has to support them, and consumers will gladly part with their hard-earned cash if it means they can get a slight boost in the viral game of the month.

Companies like Apple and Google don't have to worry about getting people to play mobile games. All they have to do is make the devices -- or at least the mobile platforms -- used whenever someone has a spare moment. Facebook doesn't have that luxury, so it needs to find another way to make people play.

Facebook is working to achieve two goals with one announcement. On the one hand, it's getting harder to wonder how the company plans to monetize the video streams it's worked so hard to get. On the other, it can salvage the social games market. Metaphorical birds, meet Facebook's imaginary stone.

[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]