Last week, myself and a colleague attended the F8 Conference in San Jose. F8 is Facebook’s yearly developer conference where they take time to announce new products, features, and other key topics.
On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg delivered the opening Keynote on a topic top of mind for many-- privacy. His keynote, titled, ‘The Future is Private” focused on six key messaging points that
Facebook is actively working to improve:
- Private interactions
- Reduced permanence
- Interoperability - use any app to reach friends
- Secure data storage
- Need to change a lot of ways they’re running the company
“We have to change a lot of the ways we run this company today.”
Many, including marketers, roll our eyes at this idea. As marketers, we know better than most of the information available through Facebook. Conversely, we also know better than most that’s there’s a wide world of information out there that goes unspoken-- does Facebook collect everything or are they truly acting in the best interest of their users? Zuckerberg and supporting speakers spoke openly of some struggles Facebook has had in this arena, while also spending Day 2 highlighting all the ways AI is improving the way content is monitored and flagged across the various Facebook products.
In addition to the overarching theme of privacy that ran throughout the two-day conference, there were some major platform updates and additions that I’ll highlight below:
- If you’re an active user of Facebook, by the time this blog has been published, you might have noticed that the Facebook mobile app has received a facelift. This rolled out during the conference and includes some major updates to Groups, which remain a key focus in 2019. Facebook is pushing for groups to act as a digital living room across users, and with that, they are rolling out new features that both let you search for groups based on interest, as well as suggested groups based on Facebook’s algorithm.
- What this means for marketers: As of today, you are not able to target users based on groups, but I suspect that as more people onboard to groups based on specific interests, Facebook will open this targeting to advertisers. There’s too much money to be had for them not to. The potential impact is large as advertisers could then target based on very specific, niche interests to target users that are actively engaged on an app that has been slowly losing engagement over the years. It’s too early to tell, but should this roll out, I would expect higher CPMs and CPCs than is typical across Facebook, but in return, advertisers are likely to see good ROI from a more qualified and engaged audience.
- A key focus across the opening keynote, as well as sessions on both days of the conference, was the future of messaging-- both on Facebook’s Messenger, as well as WhatsApp, which Facebook owns. Facebook’s goal with Messenger is to make it “fast, simple, reliable, and secure” and rewrote the entire platform from scratch to ensure more privacy with end-to-end encryption for video, audio, and text. A key update is a brand new desktop app launching across operating systems later this year, along with a new ‘Friends’ tab within messenger that will show updates from your friends across Instagram and Facebook-- all within messenger. From an advertiser’s perspective, one of the biggest announcements made was the integration of Lead Generation Ads on Messenger. This is a key new feature that will allow users to engage directly within Messenger, without ever needing to be within the FB app directly.
- What this means for marketers: Many companies have seen great success with Messenger, using built-in and flexible systems to combine customer service and support into one practical application. With Facebook growing their Messenger product and more companies building out their services on Messenger, more people will engage on Messenger, not just with friends & family, but businesses as well. To advertisers, this means a larger and more engaged audience to get in front of your brand’s message. As users become less engaged on Facebook itself, advertisers are looking for new and expanded ways to market. The inclusion of Lead Gen Ads on Messenger will go a long way to helping get in front of users who may have long ago disengaged with Facebook, but who find themselves using Messenger to interact with family, friends, and brands.
Outside the Keynote, there were several updates announced, including bringing additional eComm features to Instagram. We’ll be covering those updates and more in a separate post highlighting key updates announced in the sessions.