Market Trends

Highlights of F8 2018

Written by
3 May, 2018

While this year's F8 didn't feature the same kinds of 'sci-fi' announcements as last year's conference (like the brain-computer interface that will one day allow you to type with your mind), it was significant for other reasons.

Held again in San José, California, F8 is Facebook's yearly opportunity to showcase the things in the pipeline, what's a bit further down the road and how they are responding to the world around them.

F8 2018It goes without saying that F8 this year was marked by recent news around data privacy issues and what happened with Cambridge Analytica. But apologising and righting the wrongs wasn't the whole focus of the two-day conference - there were a number of other themes that we found interesting, and which will inevitably have an impact on you as a social advertiser, in the weeks and months to come!

Here's a high-level view of the the major announcements, as well as some analysis on what they could mean for you as a Facebook advertiser.

 

Not a big reader? Listen in to the highlights on our latest episode of the 'Hello Social Ad-dicts podcast' instead!

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Clear History

Mark Zuckerberg at F8 2018As one of Mark Zuckerberg's first announcements in his opening keynote, the new 'Clear History' functionality is a direct response to recent events. The feature, which is currently being built, will enable users to proactively see the websites and apps that are sending Facebook data, allow them to delete this information from their Facebook accounts, and also remove Facebook's ability to store data associated with their account going forward.

In his post announcing the new tool, Zuckerberg noted: "this is an example of the kind of control we think you should have" and mentioned he felt he didn't have clear enough answers to questions on data in his recent testimonies to Congress.

Impact for Facebook advertisers?

Zuckerberg went on to warn users that making use of this new tool would mean "Facebook won’t be as good while it relearns your preferences". There could be a feeling within Facebook that users are underestimating the value data analysis is bringing. While a user clearing their Facebook history will obviously have a major impact on advertising to that user, we think the announcement of Clear History should be viewed by advertisers as a warning to ensure you're keeping ads relevant and valuable.

 

Dating

Facebook Dating at F8 2018In a bit of a surprise announcement, but a real 'feel-good' one, Zuckerberg said Facebook will soon offer an opt-in dating feature that allows people to browse potential matches within groups or events they're interested in attending. What people do within the dating feature will not be shown to their friends, and Facebook noted they'll be sharing more information on the functionality when Dating moves into testing later this year.

With this announcement, Facebook look to be lining Tinder up for the chopping block, after Facebook previously took on the likes of Snapchat with Stories functionality and Craigslist, with their Marketplace tab in the Facebook app. Match Group, the parent company of Tinder and OkCupid, did in fact see its stock price fall dramatically during the announcement at F8.

Impact for Facebook advertisers?

While the details are still murky, we'd expect to see ads become available within Facebook Dating at some point. For Facebook advertisers in this space, users bringing more of their dating activity onto the platform can only be a good thing.

 

Oculus Go & Social VR

Oculus Go at F8 2018At F8 this year, Facebook announced their biggest push yet to democratize VR. Oculus Go is the company's first standalone VR headset, meaning it doesn't require an external computer or phone to function, and at a US$199 price point for the 32GB version, it's clear Facebook wants to get the hardware into the hands of as many people as possible. And if the price point wasn't enough proof of that, what really drove it home was Zuckerberg's announcement (in 'Oprah-like' fashion) that everyone at F8 this year would be taking one home for free!

Throughout the conference there were a number of sessions focussing on VR, and more specifically 'Social VR'. A lot of the talk centered around creating a sense of 'presence' and enabling users to 'defy distance' by spending time with loved ones who might live thousands of miles away, for example.

New VR Avatars F8 2018A big step towards this goal was the recent improvement to Avatars in Facebook Spaces, which feel a whole lot more lifelike. One particular session focussed on Facebook's journey towards making social VR 'indistinguishable' from real life, with Mike Booth (Creative lead, Social VR at Facebook) sharing on some pillars of social VR.

Impact for Facebook advertisers?

With Facebook looking to make VR the next widely-adopted medium for consuming content and interacting with friends online, smart advertisers will keep their finger on the pulse around ads in this space. While there was no real mention of what this would look like going forward, we imagine that product placement within Facebook Spaces would fit well with the immersive experience.

 

AR

Facebook Messenger and AR at F8 2018Facebook looks to be going all-in on AR too, with announcements of support for third-party AR filters in Messenger, Instagram and Facebook Lite, as well as tools to help developers with the creation of AR experiences.

AR camera effects are coming to Messenger and, while still in closed beta, this new functionality will help people get valuable, instant feedback about purchases, and more. Brands like Nike have already been building experiences that let people explore a new pair of shoes virtually, placing them into their own environments through AR and effectively 'trying before they buy'.

Other brands are also using this functionality in Messenger to allow users to walk through new products, or simply express themselves in a fun way. The huge adoption and built-in sharing functionality of the Messenger platform makes AR a bit of a 'no brainer'.

Zuckerberg also announced Facebook will be bringing the AR camera platform to Instagram. Using AR Studio, creators will be able to design unique, interactive camera experiences, including face filters and world effects, for their followers on Instagram.

Impact for Facebook advertisers?

Advertisers who haven't previously tried the likes of branded lenses in Snapchat may now feel its the right time to give it a go. For advertisers, AR provides an almost unparalleled way of advertising in an unobtrusive and non-interruptive manner. Branded lenses and other AR experiences can be highly context-specific and geolocated, meaning they are significant to the user in the time and place they find themself in. They also offer something of value, which can be shared with friends and enjoyed, rather than the classic 'buy-our-new-thing' advert.

 

Groups

Facebook-GroupsAnother announcement was the new Groups tab, which will help Facebook users navigate to existing groups more easily and interact with content from all of their groups in one place. Coming out later in 2018, users will also be able to discover and join new groups through the tab.

Impact for Facebook advertisers?

In light of recent events around data breaches and privacy, this new Groups tabs looks to be a way for Facebook to come back to its roots and focus again on fostering meaningful connections between people. Our advice for advertisers would be to continue to make sure your content is in line with that ultimate goal that Facebook is really pushing. Do your content and ads encourage conversation and interaction? Or are they just one-way communication from you to the masses? Align your strategy with Facebook's broader mission and you'll see better campaign results over time.

Why not also double down on growing a community for your brand on Facebook? Facebook Groups can be a great way to interact with people who are passionate about what you do, and can be a great way for you to gather user generated content for use in your marketing efforts. Peloton, an in-home fitness company, spoke in one session at F8 about their success with their Facebook Group. They mentioned it is an integral part of their community building activity and enables a great deal of online to offline connection with and between users.

 

Instagram Stories additions

Instagram Stories Third Party integration at F8According to consulting firm Block Party, Stories creation and consumption is up 842 percent since early 2016. This vertical, temporary format has become the new way users across a variety of platforms choose to interact and share what's going on. Facebook know this is happening and this week at F8 introduced a new way for people to share from their favorite apps to both Facebook and Instagram Stories. In third-party apps like Spotify, users will soon see a share button which, once pressed, will open directly into the camera. From there users will be able to edit and share the image to their story.

Impact for Facebook advertisers?

If you're not running ads in Instagram Stories yet, we'd recommend giving it a go! Many of our clients are seeing great results from this format, which has a way of mixing well with user generated content to create an experience that flows well. Carousel ads for Instagram Stories have recently become available to select advertisers in beta - check out how our client Social.Lab delivered results to Vans in our success story.

 

And that's not even everything! Other very cool announcements included:

  • WhatsApp Group Calling and Stickers - group calling will be coming in the months ahead, following the success of video and voice calling. Stickers are also coming to WhatsApp soon.
  • M Translations - a new built-in tool for Facebook Messenger that allows people to chat in two different languages and get translations in real time.
  • Launch of the open-source PyTorch 1.0 AI framework - Facebook announced it is building out its collaborative AI toolkit with other developers, including Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, in an effort to raise the bar in AI across the industry.

 

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About Joe Sweeney Content Marketing Manager here at MakeMeReach, Joe is a words guy. Joe's a qualified marketer who believes in the power of quality content to start great conversations between consumers and brands. He also hosts our weekly social media podcast!

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