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Facebook boosts personalised notifications for mobile users

Expecting a big uptick in mobile online purchasing, Facebook has revamped its notifications tab to deliver a more personalised and customisable notifications feed.

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Facebook's new experimental notifications tab Facebook

Facebook is rolling out a new take on the notifications tab in its app to deliver more of a Google Now-like experience.

Instead of only presenting a list of friend's birthdays and events, the new notifications tab in Facebook's app will attempt to surface more contextually relevant information in a fashion that blends the Facebook News Feed and Google Now.

The new notifications introduce "cards" to present information about things such as TV shows and sport scores, which are based on Pages users have previously Liked, as well as tune preferences for different content.

Users can beef up the notifications feed with information about nearby activities and events if they enable Location History in the app. The feature will help surface local events, news that is popular in the city a user resides in, weather updates and severe weather warnings, movies playing in nearby cinemas, and lists of nearby places to eat, which include links to the an eatery's Facebook Page and reviews.

Facebook billed the update as "more useful" way to deliver notifications on mobile, but no doubt the new feed and additional linkages between users' interests and location could have some appeal to advertisers even if Facebook keeps the space off limits for third-party promotions.

The personalised notifications are only available to US users presently and came alongside a new report from Facebook IQ, its marketing insights unit, highlighting that nearly a three in 10 online purchases converted by Facebook between January to May this year were done from a mobile device.

Facebook is predicting a 30 percent increase in online purchases from mobile in the fourth quarter, but highlighted the obstacles to consumers actually making a purchase remain a smartphone's screen size, difficulty using mobile to compare products and retailers, and the need to enter personal data on a smartphone.

"In a world where screen real estate is shrinking, personalization, visualization and experimentation is becoming increasingly important," Facebook IQ noted.

The update began rolling out in Facebook's iOS and Android apps to users in the US on Monday. Facebook hasn't said whether or when users in other markets will see the new personalised options.