Facebook F8: what marketers need to know

Although the Facebook F8 event, held in San Francisco this week (26 March), is primarily focused on informing its app developer community, here are three key changes to the platform that marketers need to know about.

Facebook messenger has new functions

The technology company has increasingly treated the messenger service as a separate platform, turning it into a separate app in July 2014. Set to further this aim are messenger’s latest functions, which allow users to insert apps, gifs and videos into chats.

A core reason the new changes could provide marketing potential lies in the platform’s ecommerce opportunity. During the event a demonstration showed viewers how shopping sites such as Everlane, will let users opt to get shipping notifications directly on messenger, which will allow retailers to provide new customer service functions in direct messages.

Brands such as O2 and Dorito’s have increasingly seen the benefit of measuring social engagement through meaningful interactions such as customer service over ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ and Facebook says this will give further opportunity to do so.

Additionally, Facebook says it has placed significance on images as communication tool. Last week at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit, Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president EMEA for Facebook, spoke about the way users are changing their interaction and putting images at the forefront of conversation. Mendelsohn said that Facebook users now use over 350million ‘stickers’ – or images that appear on messenger much like emoticons for text, on the platform every day.

Mendelsohn said that users are also using brand images to express emotion. For example, since the release of the movie Despicable Me, stickers of the ‘minions’ featured in the movie have been shared over 2 billion times.

Facebook will allow access to anonymised first-party data

The technology company announced that it is to extend LiveRail’s existing video ad platform to now also host in-app display ads. The new in-app platform will serve publishers such as Major League Baseball, who are looking to monetise their apps by offering space for advertisers.

The move is in part to allow publishers to monetise their offering by delivering better targeted ads for people and more effective returns for advertisers. Facebook, which has historically been hesitant to share its rich audience data outside of its platform, says publishers will now also have access to its anonymised demographic data which includes gender and age

Publishers will be able to access advertisers demand for native, display or banner ads through Facebook’s Audience Network, which is a demand side platform Facebook introduced in April 2014 to allow marketers to extend their campaigns beyond the social network.

The New York Times reported this week (24 March) that Facebook is looking to host content delivered by news organisations such as Buzzfeed, National Geographic and the New York Times itself within its news feed, moving from the previous tradition where users imported external links. Facebook’s latest Liverail offering will also give publishers complete control over how they sell their ad space, who they sell it to and the price they choose to sell it.

Facebook introduces embeddable videos

Users can now embed Facebook videos outside of the platform, much in the way that they can embed YouTube or Vimeo content. Previously, when users wanted to place a Facebook video on another publisher the whole page would be transferred including comment boxes and timeline.

So far, YouTube has been the dominant video platform for advertisers due to the major role of influencers and vloggers such as Zooella, Pixiwoo and Pewdiepie. Facebook’s new move may offer these content creators more incentive to upload videos through the platform as now they can share videos outside of its walls.

The social network giant revealed during its quarterly earning’s report in January that it gets 3 billion video views per day, proving its success in the video space in the short time that it has been present. Facebook has only entered the video space in March 2014. The move to offer embedded videos could help to accelerate this growth even further.

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