Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, took place in San Jose, California this week. While there were notable mentions of safety and security, Facebook has stayed true to its mission by continuing to move forward with new features and services to help people connect in meaningful ways.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened his keynote speech by acknowledging that Facebook has been under fire and that through this, they have learned how important it is to get it right. He then said that he “can’t believe we’re only four months in” to 2018 — and neither can we.
Facebook remains dedicated to building tools and making sure they’re used for good. While people have tried using these tools for harm, the social giant continues to take steps to keep people safe. As a result, Facebook has shifted its focus to protecting election integrity, fighting fake news, and ensuring data privacy. The company has taken actions towards each of the prior already, including the rollout of the Ads Transparency Tool in Canada and limiting the data that apps can collect on users, both before and after Cambridge Analytica. Additionally, Facebook is reopening app and bot reviews as of today.
While Facebook has established a new focus on keeping users safe, the social network hasn’t lost sight of its core vision to build services that help connect users in meaningful ways. To address this, they have a unique mission for each of their apps:
Facebook – Build something that’s not just fun to use, but is good for people.
Instagram – Capture any moment and come together over shared interests.
WhatsApp – Build new ways for people to connect privately with friends and businesses.
Messenger – Build richer ways to connect privately.
VR and the Future – Create a real feeling of presence.
Facebook’s F8 conference may be aimed at developers, but there are important takeaways for advertisers and new opportunities for brands to connect with consumers. Below are the top eight highlights from the conference:
Facebook App Ads
Three main updates were announced around app ads. Currently available in Facebook, Instagram Feed, and Audience Network, App Ads will now become available in Instagram Stories and Messenger placements, as well. An Instagram Story ad will include a “Swipe Up to Play” call to action (CTA), while the Messenger ads were previewed with a “Play Now” CTA button.
Facebook also developed a new bid type called Value Optimization that optimizes towards users with the highest predicted average purchase value over a seven-day window. Available in the Ads Manager interface under Optimization for Ad Delivery, Value Optimization aims to improve return on ad spend (ROAS) for app campaigns.
Further, Playable Ads provide users with a highly interactive, immersive experience that allows them to try an app before they download it. Currently in closed beta, this new ad unit contains a lead video with a “Tap to Try” button that looks like a game controller. If a user clicks on the game controller, a full-screen game experience is opened where users can play and see quick tips for the game. Once the experience has ended, users will be prompted to visit the App Store to download. Early tests have shown that Playable Ads are highly effective in driving downloads from high quality users.
What this means for advertisers: Advertisers will now have a more seamless way of optimizing towards business results in their apps with the introduction of Value Optimization. As the years have passed, the industry has moved from focusing on clicks → installs → events → value, showing the richer data available. Playable Ads will enable advertisers to garner higher quality customers through the immersive ad format. Additional placements will allow for A/B testing and deeper optimizations and expand potential reach with automatic placements
The Facebook Analytics mobile app has been released, which will enable advertisers to see key metrics and receive push notifications around significant changes on the go.
Journeys, a new omni-channel report, shows customer interactions across an advertiser’s Facebook Page, website, mobile app, and Messenger bot. In most analytics tools, advertisers see each consumer interaction as a session. Journeys focuses on what happens in each session, where those users came from, and more. Facebook recognizes periods of inactivity to split up these sessions to better measure converted vs. timed out Journeys.
Facebook announced a series of additions and enhancements to Automated Insights within Facebook Analytics. New Auto-Detected Funnels leverage machine learning to slice and dice data to show the most popular path to conversion. Insights overall have been enhanced, with the addition of Funnel Conversion Insights, providing deeper insight into Journeys and Funnels, and Insights Based on Custom Parameters. Analytics will also call out anomalies in advertisers’ data.
What this means for advertisers: Advertisers will now be able to view deeper insights into the customer journey, which may inform campaign strategy and optimizations in the future. With richer insights, advertisers have a more automated way to look at data so that they may be able to spend more time taking action from these learnings to increase ROI.
Facebook is expanding pre-roll testing to include ad formats where users can take a specific action, including CTA buttons, preview trailers, and possible monetization of video Pages.
Facebook is testing expansions to the branded content handshake tool to better showcase the type of paid partnership and the overall representation to users. New formats will be tested, including direct response branded content, which will allow creators to show and drive purchases of products directly from an advertiser in their post.
A number of video updates and enhancements across the Facebook family of apps and services were also highlighted. Video chat is coming to Instagram, and group video calling will now be available on both Instagram and WhatsApp. Watch Party will now be available within the Facebook app, allowing users to watch content with their friends.
What this means for advertisers: With the rollout of CTA buttons within pre-roll and direct response branded content, advertisers will have additional opportunities in terms of placements and ad units to drive users down the purchase funnel.
Messenger has grown significantly year-over-year. There are now 8 billion messages exchanged between businesses and people — up 4X since last year and over 300 thousand chatbots powered by AI on the platform — up from 100 thousand this time last year.
Facebook’s head of Messenger, David Marcus, announced several updates to the Messenger platform which align with Facebook’s mission to bring people together. They are simplifying the app design to ensure a fast experience for users by removing several functions that were muddying up the interface, such as the camera and games tabs in the menu bar. This cleaner appearance should help keep the emphasis on the core value of chat while giving the newly announced features more opportunity to shine. Two main features that were announced are M Translations and Branded AR.
M Translations is aimed at making the world smaller by translating messages and eliminating language barriers. Facebook already has translation services built into their News Feed comments and posts, but the expansion to Messenger will allow both people and brands to connect in more meaningful ways. There is currently limited availability for this feature, but it will roll out more widely in the future.
Branded AR is a closed beta opportunity that gives brands the ability to build augmented reality experiences natively in Messenger. With Branded AR, users can interact with businesses on Messenger and be driven to open the app’s camera to use a brand-specific AR effect. Users can then come back to their conversation, share a photo or video of the experience with friends, or complete a transaction with the brand using Facebook’s payment system.
David Marcus also announced a Customer Chat Plugin beta, which allows brands to embed Messenger directly into their websites. This integration will give brands the ability to continue conversations from the Messenger app when users click through to their website and vice versa. This will create a seamless experience for users and allow brands to retarget customers based on these interactions.
What this means for advertisers: The potential for Branded AR to drive sales and increase engagement for advertisers within Messenger is exciting to say the least. M Translations will break down language barriers for brands and may be able to drive more sales for brands that previously couldn’t communicate with all of their potential customers. The Customer Chat Plugin will connect brands to their customers in a seamless way that will likely result in deeper brand loyalty.
The full-screen, immersive product that has been a success on Instagram is now on trend to surpass Feeds as the main way of sharing among friends by 2019. This follows a long history of changes in user behavior, such as the shifts from desktop to handheld devices and from TV to mobile video. The Stories format is not contained to Instagram — Facebook has launched Stories and WhatsApp has a similar product called Status which now has 450 million daily active users!
Facebook announced a Sharing to Stories beta which allows 3rd party apps such as Spotify and GoPro to enable sharing directly from their apps to Instagram and Facebook Stories. Users will be able to share a deep-link in their Stories, which has extensive applications such as sharing a link to a song they are listening to on Spotify or directly uploading video shot with a GoPro.
What this means for advertisers: Advertisers have begun incorporating Stories ads into their campaigns over the past year, but the format will quickly become a main component of media mixes moving forward to align with the shifting user behavior. While there is currently no monetization opportunity with the Sharing to Stories beta, all apps are able to integrate with the extension (pending a review process), so we look forward to seeing how businesses across all verticals apply this for their existing apps to drive the actions they desire from discovery to transactions. For now, WhatsApp’s Status does not have any ad placements; however, we believe that will change in the near future given the scale that the product now has. Just as users can cross-share their stories from Instagram to Facebook, advertisers may soon see WhatsApp Status as an available placement for their ads.
Facebook announced their new virtual reality product, Oculus Go, which is an affordable VR headset, starting at $199. The headset will come loaded with 1,000 apps and speakers built into the device, so no headphones are needed for a surround-sound effect.
Oculus Go has several categories of apps including Oculus TV, Oculus Rooms, and Oculus Venues. Oculus TV launches this month with partners such as Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, and ESPN. This summer, users will be able to invite friends to have a Watch Party in VR and view shows or live video together from the comfort of their headsets. Oculus Venues allows users to watch live concerts, NBA, and MLB games, and movie screenings by Lionsgate. Users will feel as if they are sitting in a theater or stadium, which will create an immersive experience. Oculus Rooms is an app that allows users to share their VR experience with friends. They will be able to listen to music together and even play board games. Facebook has partnered with Hasbro to bring games such as Boggle, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit to the world of virtual reality.
What this means for advertisers: Oculus Go will be available globally for purchase, but there is no impact on advertisers at this time. The apps will create more opportunities for partnerships and we speculate that ads may appear within the interface in the future.
Data & Privacy
Facebook has doubled down on its commitment to ensure its users have more control over their data and privacy. Two updates that rolled out to reinforce this mission are Clear History and reduced permissions for Facebook Login.
Clear History is a new feature that provides users with greater control around their data. Users will be able to view information about the websites and apps they previously interacted with and remove that data from their account. Users will also have the option to turn off Facebook’s ability to store data associated with their accounts going forward. Mark Zuckerberg likened this feature to clearing your cookies. While enabling this feature will provide users with more control, it will also result in a less personalized experience.
Facebook Login permissions have been undergoing updates in light of Cambridge Analytica and GDPR. Beginning May 1, permissions an app can request were further reduced, so users’ public profiles will only comprise of a person’s name and picture, along with their user ID. Facebook will now require separate permissions to gather users’ email addresses with Facebook Login. Furthermore, if an app or website wants to gather additional information such as age, gender, check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events and groups, the permission to do so will require Login Review by the user.
What this means for advertisers: Even if a user enables Clear History, Facebook will still allow for Facebook advertising attribution in terms of conversions or app events and will continue to provide aggregate reporting for Facebook Analytics and Audience Insights, while maintaining individual users’ anonymity and privacy. Businesses that have apps will need to work with their developer teams to implement the necessary updates to Facebook Login to ensure they are in compliance with the new rules Facebook outlined.
Facebook Dating will now be a thing. Facebook users will be able to set up a dating profile which will feature only their first name and will not be visible to friends and only to those using the dating service. Facebook Dating will showcase events and groups related to users’ interests where they can interact with others. Private messaging will be text only for now as a safety measure and will be a separate space from Messenger.
Memories allow users to map out immersive spaces, reconstructing places and moments that are important to them. An expansion on Facebook’s VR capabilities, Memories can take photos and videos and turn them into 3D, interactive spaces.
AR Face Filters are rolling out in Instagram in a closed beta. The effects that are designed will only be visible to the creator’s followers, however there is potential for earned reach and use through friends of fans.
Instagram Explore is getting a redesign, organizing the tab into topic channels based on interests. A comment filter already exists on Instagram to hide offensive comments, but Facebook just announced a Bullying Filter. Building upon advanced machine learning, the Bullying Filter will hide language intended to harass or upset people.
WhatsApp Business launched earlier this year to small businesses only and already has 3 million users. Facebook is now testing a solution for large businesses, which will include away messages, quick replies, labels, and more to allow businesses to manage a large volume of messages.
What this means for advertisers: No advertiser implications at this time.