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Knowledge Base – Facebook battles back. What we learned from F8

With Facebook hitting the news in recent weeks for the wrong reasons, we though it only fair that we looked at their recent F8 conference in San Jose, to understand why they are still one of the driving forces in the digital landscape and how their latest innovations could shape search in the future


There can be no denying it, Facebook has had something of a torrid time in the press of late. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and the scrutiny the social media giant has faced over the use of data, means that questions have been asked.

These questions are so pressing and so damning that they even had to send the ‘top dog’, CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg to the senate to answer them. But what next?

Well, there was a brief campaign to get users to delete the app and to disassociate themselves with the platform but it seems as though we can’t live without it. Facebook knows this and over the last week or so have gone through something of a fight back with their ‘F8’ conference in California.

Zuckerberg and his team welcomed over 5000 developers from around the globe in a bid to showcase new products and build trust. In a brief status update about this year’s F8, Zuckerberg said that he is going to “share more about the work we’re doing to keep people safe, and to keep building services to help us connect in more meaningful ways”.

So let’s look at the latest development and see how they might impact our industry in the coming months…

Mobile & GDPR

I’ve grouped these two together for several reasons but none more so than that they are the two biggest challenges that the industry is presented with at the moment. The questions that everyone is asking here are, are you fully optimising for mobile and how do you plan to protect the users data?

As one of the world’s two biggest advertising companies (the other being Google) Facebook knows that data is the one area they have be on point. They must make sure that third parties who advertise through the platform are fully GDPR compliant. In fact they have already informed businesses using services such as DoubleClick and Custom Audiences that they must certify the data they utilise to serve ads satisfies the new regulations.

New online dating platform

Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook is launching a dating feature where you can volunteer to make a profile that’s only visible to non-friends who’ve also opted into, and who are looking for love.

Facebook will match you based on all its data, and messaging will happen in a dedicated inbox rather than Messenger. All of this is part of the ‘new search’ where it’s love and not just answers that we use our smartphones and apps for.

As the CEO said ‘meaningful relationships’ are the main focus of the platform moving forward and this is another way to bolster that message.

The platform has had a relationship status feature since it was first introduced in 2004 and it is thought that by adding a twist on dating, they can rival  Match Group, (owners of Tinder and OkCupid). The danger here however, relates to the fact that over 2.2billion monthly users, will be allowing reams of data to be uploaded and there is a question of whether or not this can be secured when the tech relies so heavily on it being shared and ‘matched’.

Offering the platform for free is seen as quite a nice addition but in truth it will be another area in which to monetise the use of ads as it helps Facebook create a more-accurate picture of who a user is for targeting purposes based of their social circle’s likes and interests.

PPC specialists across the country should be gearing us for this as it could be one of the fastest growing ad streams ever, especially when you consider the location targeting that it will offer.

The ads in this part of the platform are highly likely to be ‘dating locations’ local restaurants, cinemas, bars of other recreational areas.

Full Messenger relaunch

Facebook is giving Messenger a major design overhaul, promising a much simpler and cleaner user experience.

“When you’re messaging, you really want a simple and fast experience,” Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s F8 keynote. “We’re taking this moment to completely redesign Messenger to focus on these ideas.”

The main benefit for this in terms of search marketing again comes in the form of paid search. With usage on Messenger going up and with the news feed more cluttered than ever with ‘spammy’ clickbait articles, the cost per 1000 impressions is on the rise.

Shifting ads to the slicker Messenger platform will offer a reduced CPA whilst still targeting the same users.

‘Clear history’ function

Trust is a major issue in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica news and the company will soon launch a new privacy feature that will allow users to see and delete the data Facebook has collected from websites and apps that use its ads and analytics tool.

“Once we roll out this update, you’ll be able to see information about the apps and websites you’ve interacted with, and you’ll be able to clear this information from your account,” Zuckerberg said. “You’ll even be able to turn off having this information stored with your account.”

This is seen as a way to keep the audience high and more diverse, which plays into the hands of advertisers. A more secure platform is good for trust but those in PPC will have to work a little harder if they are to keep targeted ads appearing in the right place. What it will change however is that, those who are running ads on the platforms will know that users have consented and effectively opted in but the data they share to be targeted, meaning cleaner lists and more than likely a higher conversion rate on ads.

Key takeaways and how you can prepare

Of course this wouldn’t be a knowledge base without the insights that you can take away and implement. With Facebook continuing to grow and with the audience larger than ever it is vital that you are fully utilising the service. By building your brand through the platforms and growing your audience you put yourself in a much better position as a business but what does the future really hold?

As Facebook look to improve their platform it is worth looking at their 10 year plan. This ‘roadmap’ outlines the three key segments they plan to target and where the development will come from. If you can utilise this for your own good then you can consider yourself ahead of the curve.

In segment one, the time between 2017 – 2020 all of the focus will be on the smooth running of both the Facebook and Instagram platforms. Increased functionality and better integration with third party apps (data compliant, of course). This segment of the 10 year plan is titled ‘Ecosystems’ and is essentially getting the basics right.

The subsequent two years or the ‘Products’ segment of the roadmap is where the secondary developments take place. Here Facebook will look to build on integration and understand how search and video search can be better implemented on their platforms. This will also include a refresh on the Messenger part of the platform as well as Workplace, Groups and WhatsApp.

For those who are serious about search marketing and making sure that they are being found on search engine results pages, (SERPs) it is the tertiary segment ‘Technologies’ where you can learn the most. This section of the Facebook roadmap looks at the period between 2022 and 2027. Here we can see what Google considers the major changes in the market place.

They will put their focus on Connectivity, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR).

In those sub sections they predict the biggest industry shifts will come in the following forms:

Connectivity

  • Express Wi-Fi – Improving speeds and global reach as well as investing in infrastructure. Facebook believes that people, no matter where they live, deserve a consistent, high-bandwidth internet experience.
  • Terrestrial solutions –  Facebook has announced two new terrestrial systems focused on improving the speed, efficiency, and quality of internet connectivity around the world — Terragraph and Project ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum).
  • Drones – The long-term plan for the drone, called Aquila, is to have it and others provide internet access to 4 billion people around the world who are currently in the dark. “When Aquila is ready, it will be a fleet of solar-powered planes that will beam internet connectivity across the world,” said Zuckerberg.
  • Lasers – Facebook says it has developed a laser detector that could open the airwaves to new high-speed data communications systems that don’t require dedicated spectrum or licenses.
  • Satellites – The application to launch a satellite named Athena would test the use of high-frequency millimeter wave radio signals, the same technology many in the cellular industry are using to build next-generation 5G networks with more speed and capacity.

AI

According to their research platform: “Facebook Artificial Intelligence researchers seek to understand and develop systems with human-level intelligence by advancing the longer-term academic problems surrounding AI.

“Our research covers the full spectrum of topics related to AI, and to deriving knowledge from data: theory, algorithms, applications, software infrastructure and hardware infrastructure. Long-term objectives of understanding intelligence and building intelligent machines are bold and ambitious, and we know that making significant progress towards AI can’t be done in isolation.

“That’s why we actively engage with the research community through publications, open source software, participation in technical conferences and workshops, and collaborations with colleagues in academia.”

The focus areas will be:

  • Language
  • Reasoning
  • Vision
  • Planning

VR/AR

With the launch of AR Studio, the platform empowers creators to connect art with data to bring augmented reality into everyday life through the Facebook camera.

Since launching in closed beta at F8, they’ve seen a strong response from the 2,000+ creators using AR Studio – building fun, animated frames, masks, and interactive AR experiences. They’ve been working hard to give them even more powerful tools, and open them up to more people.

Facebook is also expanding availability of the platform and the AR Studio creative tool to everyone. The goal with AR Studio is to put the power of augmented reality in the hands of all creators meaning they can use the AR Studio toolset to build and share AR experiences with the Facebook community. Their focuses here will be:

  • Mobile VR
  • Social VR
  • AR Reach
  • Touch
  • Standalone

Conferences like F8 offer invaluable insights into how the future of social media and search marketing will develop. Whilst the topics and ideas covered might have been on your radar for a while, it is refreshing to hear that there are so many people working on them in the background and developing strategies. In a similar vein our Benchmark Search Conference will expand on some of these ideas and concepts. If you’ve learned anything it should be that keeping up to date with the wider industry, planning for the future (even on a 10 year plan) and implementing new techniques are key to producing the best results.


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