Fast Take On: F8 Facebook Developer Conference
By MEC — April, 2017
This week Facebook held its annual F8 Developer Conference, a must-attend event for both developers and marketers based on key product updates and initiatives historically announced. This year, the major focus was on Augmented Reality (AR) as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put a stake in the ground for Facebook “to make the camera the first augmented reality platform,” thus setting the tone for the content that followed. While Snapchat could legitimately claim they have already done this, Zuckerberg’s point, though unstated, was that there are a slew of technologies (e.g. camera-based AR) that only Facebook’s massive global scale and footprint can make mainstream.
Below are the major announcements, key takeaways from Facebook’s F8 Conference 2017 and what it all means for marketers.
The bulk of Zuckerberg’s keynote focused on plans to launch an AR ecosystem within Facebook, starting with the Camera Effects platform, which will allow developers to build AR functionality that is integrated with Facebook’s in-app camera. The Camera Effects platform enables developers to create effects that can overlay onto Facebook’s in-app camera. To support developers, Facebook is launching AR Studio, a software to help developers create AR experiences.
Delivering on Zuckerberg’s 2014 statement when he said that he sees VR as the future of social interaction, Facebook announced a new product for the Oculus platform, Facebook Spaces, which lets users interact with each other in VR via avatars sharing a virtual world. This VR app is leveraging social VR, letting users build a virtual world and hang out in it, as well as watch 360-degree videos, draw with virtual pens and call friends via Messenger.
According to Facebook, Messenger now has 1.2 billion users (up from 900 million last year), while the number of AI-enabled chatbots, the focus of last year’s F8, has grown 3x since September 2016 to 100,000. With functionality continuing to expand, Facebook claims to be just getting started, especially when it comes to Messenger and business. For example, Facebook announced chat extensions that allow multiple users to engage with a business or third party app at the same time. The result? The integration of both music (Spotify is integrated into it and Apple Music was promised to be coming soon) and games into the platform (e.g. sharing the latest hit song from Spotify or challenging your friend to a round of Words With Friends) all via the Messenger platform. So, for example, Messenger users can drop a song from Spotify into a group thread, allowing them all to listen to the song simultaneously.
Chatbotswill also be easier to find via a new Discover tab accessible via homescreen, allowing users to find the latest bots, including MasterCard’s, which allows U.S. users to order from FreshDirectand Subway.
Lastly, Facebook is bringing its virtual assistant, M, into Messenger to perform relevant functions. For example, if you are discussing what to do for dinner with a friend on Messenger, M can suggest ordering via Delivery.com.
Video Content Monetization
This announcement was mostly a rehash of already-known moves to ensure content partners are able to gain revenue by being on the platform. For example, for video publishers, lucrative opportunities seem to be built into a larger rollout of ad breaks that insert a short (<15 second) ad within content. Facebook refers to this as mid-roll. While it’s unclear how many viewers will make it this far it may in fact be an interim step towards a more traditional pre-roll unit. Facebook so far has resisted pre-roll, but their stance on sound-on for videos seem adamant.
Thanks to SLAM’s technology, users will be able to access AR games that incorporate real-world objects, using SLAM, which results in the ability to create overlays over whatever is in front of a user, turning nearly anything into a game board.
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