In a packed F8 developer conference, balancing between quasi-subtle political messages and glorification of oversharing, Mark Zuckerberg presented Facebook’s ten year roadmap in San Fransisco yesterday. There have been many significant developer announcements during the first day. But since the boundaries among technological advances, content creation and promotion, distribution and destination have been mingling for quite a while now, it’s worth summarising some crucial points that could also possibly affect publishers, media outlets and journalists as well.
Bots are our friends.
“We think you should be able to message a business like you would message a friend” (Mark Zuckerberg, F8, April 2016).
With the Messenger platform reaching a milestone 900M active users, I believe that anything concerning developments in this area could be considered as a top priority. Facebook launched the beta version of the Messenger platform (and opened APIs) allowing developers to create chatbots. With this move, Facebook aims at turning the Messenger platform into an area for shopping, entertainment and other services eventually. The company visualises a more natural communication between users and bots, as David Marcus – Facebook VP of messaging products- mentioned. This is particularly interesting for business, that will soon see themselves delivering e-commerce services, interactive content and/or automated customer support through Messenger bots.
Facebook Live: More visual social media stories.
Just a few days after Facebook Live went widespread, Facebook announced its Live API launch that will allow third parties to integrate Facebook’s live streaming services into broadcasts. Facebook is heavily investing on Live, aiming at more engaging experiences and giving incentives to publishers to adopt through original and pioneering ways. Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg set the example by bringing a drone on stage and stating that it will livestream the F8 event. Time waits for no Mark.
Sponsored Messages: Advertising and the bot economy
Facebook announced advertising tests on Messenger, through the form of ‘sponsored messages’. This means that the platform will allow businesses (and charge them of course) to send re-engagement messages to users if the latter have already started a conversation with them. Still, the company approaches this monetisation technique with a certain caution on users’ experience as David Marcus quoted.
Surround 360 – VR camera
“I believe that virtual reality has the potential to be the most social platform”(Mark Zuckerberg, F8, April 2016).
Facebook unveiled its brand new VR camera to suit its Oculus plans. A 17 lens 3D VR equipment that does not necessarily look stylish, but is supposed to require less laborious post-production work compared to other rigs and can produce high quality footage. Facebook mentioned that the company is not interested in entering into the camera business, thus it won’t be selling the Surround 360. Instead, it will open source it so people can start building their own. Therefore, more players in the game and more origianal content for Facebook.
It’s all about the metrics, or is it?
Mark Zuckerberg presented some milestones for Messenger and Whats App that cannot be missed: The combination of both messaging services sees 60 billion messages sent daily versus 20 billion for traditional texting (SMS). Moreover, Messenger is catching up with Whats App (900 million active users versus 1 billion users) and that creates a perfect environment for the chatbot investment plan, among others. On a more personal note, with all this activity on Messenger, I wonder about the future of Facebook newsfeed .
Instant Articles, branded content, perpetual problems.
The official day for opening instant articles to all publishers was yesterday and as it had already been announced, a range of publishers already work closely with Facebook on this. Publishers will also be able to publish native ads as Instant Articles and distinguish them from their regular content through various styling options, plus a sponsor logo. So far, so good. Facebook supports that instant articles will be a great story-telling tool for all publishers. A tool that will help them have control over the experience, their ads and their data. But when it comes to any ‘data control’, what Facebook means is totally different than what publishers might need. Facebook has reported significant boost for publishers through instant articles but when it comes to content selection, creation and promotion, publishers are still way back than the social media giant that trusts its algorithmic data much more than any editorial board. Faster news uploads might bring more readers in any publishing house but it might also come with a sore cost in journalism practices, standards and values.
(Image source: http://www.thenextweb.com)