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Facebook Uses Onavo to Gain Inside Scoop on Competitors

Tim Burd author profile image
facebook uses onavo to gain inside scoop on competitors
facebook uses onavo to gain inside scoop on competitors

We all know Facebook is tracking our activity on their platform. But, not very many people understand to what extent, or how they do it.

In recent years Facebook has seriously increased its capabilities with the purchase of several tech companies. In 2013, Facebook added Onavo Protect to their roster. Onavo is an Israeli Company that specializes in compression and mobile data statistics. The Onavo application protects user data, allows you to set limits on data, and monitors data consumption.

How Does Onavo Work?

When an Onavo Protect user opens a mobile app or website, Onavo redirects the traffic to Facebook's servers. The users' actions are then recorded in a database allowing Facebook to analyze and obtain detailed information on which apps people are using. The app lets them know how often, and how long a person is using a particular application. They can also see specifics on the user demographic. Onavo’s data is so precise that it even allows Facebook to keep tabs on how many Snapchat posts their users sent each day.

Facebook is using this user data to better understand what websites and applications users frequent the most outside of their network. And, with the company already having an impressive 24 million downloads in the Android universe. Facebook now knows what millions of people do on their phones, even if they don’t actually use the social network.

Why Facebook Acquired Onavo:

This acquisition didn’t come as any surprise to those who closely follow Facebook. They are constantly expanding their portfolio, and some argue that Onavo has been one of their best purchases to date. The year prior to purchasing Onavo, Facebook (2012) acquired the social media giant Instagram, and then Whatsapp in 2014 to help compete with SnapChat’s Stories Feature.

It would appear that instead of just using the data for advertising purposes. Facebook is also using the data as an advantage over its competitors. However, having the ability to know usage trends is nothing new said a Facebook Insider. Truth is; it’s a fairly common practice for social media companies to use third-party data for their market research. They went on to say, the way information is gathered from Onavo, and how it is used is very clear to users. They are also very transparent with how the info will be shared with affiliates.


This type of data consumption by major Social Media platforms is only going to continue to grow and evolve over the next few years. The amount of data and the insights it can provide to these companies is worth its weight in gold, and we fully expect companies to double down on their data collections efforts.

Apple and Google already have the ability to access similar information about their rivals' on Android and iOS. Though it isn't clear if Apple and Google have used the data to improve their products like their rival Facebook, we’re willing to bet if they haven’t already, they will be using this data in the very near future.

About Tim Burd

Tim Burd is a public speaker, consultant, and serial entrepreneur who’s been called the “Godfather of Facebook Advertising” for his many years of supporting and empowering digital marketers.

Tim’s Facebook Ad Buyers Group is the largest community of online advertisers in the world. He is the co-founder of AdLeaks, an exclusive subscription-based community, and resource for digital marketing and business growth.

In addition to hosting Mastermind workshops and events, Tim has been featured on publications and platforms ranging from Forbes and Bloomberg to Buzzfeed and Bravo.

Tim Burd lives in Newport Beach, California, and works with clients worldwide as a high-end advertising consultant and business development expert.