Facebook parent company Meta is reportedly planning to allow users in the European Union to directly download apps through Facebook ads. This move is seen as a strategic step to compete with Google and Apple's app stores. The new type of ad is set to start as a pilot with a handful of Android app developers as soon as later this year, according to The Verge.
First Android, then iOS
The company's decision comes in the wake of the recently passed Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the EU. The DMA, expected to go into effect next spring, deems Apple and Google as “gatekeepers” and requires that they open up their mobile platforms to alternative methods of downloading apps. Meta sees this as an opportunity to test its new ad type first on Android rather than Apple‘s iOS.
“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,” said Tom Channick, a spokesperson for Meta, confirming the plan in an emailed statement to The Verge.
Direct App-Downloads via Facebook
Meta's pitch to developers participating in the pilot is that hosting their Android apps and letting Facebook users download them directly without being redirected to the Play Store will increase conversion rates for their app install ads. Furthermore, Meta does not plan to take a cut of in-app revenue from participating apps, at least initially, allowing developers to use their preferred billing systems.
If successful, this move could potentially disrupt the current duopoly of app store marketplaces in the region. Meta is not alone in wanting to become a distributor of mobile apps when the EU's DMA goes into effect. Microsoft has also expressed interest in launching an alternative app store for games on iOS and Android in Europe next year.