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Facebook changes how it measures application activity

Monthly active users are now tracked instead of daily ones, a change that will go virtually unnoticed for most of Facebook's users but could be a big deal among developers.

A sharp-eyed tipster told Nick O'Neill at All Facebook that the social network has modified the metrics it uses to track user activity on developer applications.

Instead of reporting how many daily active users an application has, Facebook now reports its monthly active users. The reason, company representatives said, is that while there's no universal metric that applies to all applications, monthly generally works better than daily: education applications might peak during the week, movie-related apps could have higher traffic on weekends, and some games might see their peak during boring afternoons at the office. Plenty of "useful" apps on the platform just don't get used every day.

Facebook spokesman David Swain said an official blog post about the switch would be available later on Tuesday.

This is a fairly big deal for developers--though O'Neill speculates they may be able to get daily stats internally--and pretty much insignificant for users, unless they were totally picky about knowing exactly how many people were using their favorite apps every day. One developer who spoke to CNET News said monthly stats will probably be a plus for him, if only because it means his application will have a 22,000 next to it rather than a 1,500.

It does deal a blow to Adonomics, a start-up that tracks daily use of Facebook applications. That company's business model is now uncertain.

This post was updated at 11:48 a.m. PT with comment from Facebook.