Facebook beefs up its entertainment pages

Social network adds more data to its social graph -- and possibly allows a better way to make recommendations and advertise to users.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
3 min read
Facebook's various Batman pages. Screenshot by Donna Tam/CNET

Facebook is beefing up its interest pages, giving the social network a better way to surface recommendations and offering advertisers a better way to target users.

The company today announced its partnership with Rovi Corp., a metadata company that will fill out the social network's already existing entertainment interest pages -- those pages you "like" if you are a fan -- and create new ones.

Metadata is a set of data that describes other data, allowing companies to easily organize or search the data. Facebook will make some of this data available to its third-party developers, which means entertainment apps can use the information as well.

This is the standardization of user-created pages, according to Kevin Wyatt, director of business development at Rovi. It's a way to make sure all the information on pages are supported by original sources, not just Wikipeida or IMDb, he explained.

"When you are talking about the social Internet, I think the greatest challenge you have is taking user-created content that is unstructured," Wyatt said.

Simply put, adding this type of structure helps Facebook connect the dots on its data more easily.

Rovi is providing data for about roughly 5 million productions. The data includes descriptive components, like related images, plots, celebrities, synopsis, genres, moods, and scene details, according to Wyatt. The company also has data on games, but Facebook didn't add that data to its licensing agreement.

Hundreds of other big names use Rovi's metadata. This includes powering Comcast's program guide, creating catalogs for Samsung's smart TVs, or providing information for sites, like AOL.

In addition to having consistent information, companies can use the data for other purposes, Wyatt said. Companies can use it to help advertisers better target potential customers. While Facebook won't comment on this aspect of Rovi's data, advertisers could technically use the data to know which products users will likely have interest in based on previous likes.

For example, an advertiser could use Rovi data to tell which customers may like a certain Batman movie based on whether they've liked other superhero movies with the same production style, even if they've never liked a Batman page. Facebook could use this same technique to offer movie or show recommendations to users.

Rovi's data also reveals more than what movies people like to watch. Wyatt said Rovi has DVD data on a range of hobbies including fitness, bass fishing, and music.

Facebook wouldn't say specifically what it will use the data for, other than to bulk up its content. Ime Archibong, Facebook's manager of strategic partnerships, said as much in a press release:

We see the social interaction with movies, TV shows and video entertainment growing immensely over the next couple of years. With this in mind, we've sought Rovi as a valuable source for TV and movie information to help provide the backdrop that we need to enable developers to create a connected experience for consumers in their apps and services.

But users won't just have more content to look at. This could be a boost for Facebook's Graph Search, now in its infancy. Rovi's data gives Graph Search a chance to sift through more content and, possibly, fine-tune its results.