Facebook Doubles Down On Video For More Ad Dollars

What Happened
This week, Facebook launched several new features and initiatives aiming to build out the video offerings on its main site. On Tuesday, the social network rolled out a “watch and scroll” feature to all desktop users, allowing videos to keep playing in a pop-up window on the side of the News Feed even when users have scrolled past them. On Wednesday, the company also updated its Live video product to allow all users and Pages using its iOS app to invite a friend to make a guest appearance in their broadcast.

According to multiple sources, the company has inked deals with millennial-focused publishers including Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, and Group Nine Media to create original series for its upcoming video service, which reportedly will feature long and short-form content with ad breaks. In addition, Facebook has also started beta testing a new ad targeting tool called Audience Direct that gives streaming video publishers access to Facebook user data for more nuanced targeting on their own apps and websites.

What Brands Need To Do
Facebook’s recent moves to improve its video features, both live and regular, and acquire more original content are the latest in its push to attract more advertising dollars as it continues to challenge YouTube as a go-to destination site for digital video advertising, which is projected to hit $18 billion in ad spending by 2018. Facebook has significantly grown the video consumption on its site over the past few years, as the social network now claiming that users watch over 100 million hours of video on its site every day. As Facebook continues to double down on its video products, brands should reevaluate their media mix and consider leveraging Facebook’s massive global reach to reach consumers online with targeted video ads.


Sources: as linked in the post

Facebook Ramps Up Live Content With Weekly MLB Games

What Happened
Facebook continues its aggressive push for more live video content as it signs a new streaming deal with the Major League Baseball (MLB) to stream 20 games this season. The broadcasts, drawn from a feed from one of the participating team’s local broadcast rightsholders, mostly consist of nationally telecast games and will go live weekly on Friday nights, starting with the match between the Colorado Rockies and the Cincinnati Reds tonight.

What Brands Need To Do
Rumors of Facebook talking with sports leagues and media owners to get more live sports content have been swirling around since this February. This MLB deal confirms the social giant’s play for live sports, which mirrors Twitter’s sports-focused strategy for live video as well.  Facebook has started to monetize its live video content by adding mid-roll ad breaks, which provides brands with a valuable channel to reach sports fans who are not reachable via traditional TV ads.

Live sports are widely regarded as the last bastion against the declining live TV ratings, but with more and more sports leagues signing deals like this one to make their content available on digital platforms, more and more viewers are migrating to those new platforms as well. Therefore, brands seeking to reach sports fans will need to follow along by adjusting their media mix.


Source: The Verge

Facebook Let Users Unlock Discounts Via QR Codes For Offline Purchases

What Happened
Facebook has quietly added a feature in its flagship app that enables users to unlock digital discounts for offline purchases at partnered stores. With the Rewards feature nested under the More tab in Facebook’s main app, users can scan a personalized QR code to score discounts or bonuses when they make a purchase at a participating store.

Different from the Offers feature that Facebook launched in 2012, which gears towards coupon collecting and redeeming, this Rewards feature works more like a Facebook-operated loyalty program, allowing customers to scan their personalized QR codes every time they visit a store and rack up the “stamps” for certain rewards.

Facebook says this is a test feature that is currently only available to select users. There is no word on when or if this feature will become widely available.

What Brands Need To Do
For retailers and QSR brands, this Rewards feature gives them a new promotional channel to reach customers via Facebook and incentivize store visits. Other brands can also use this feature for customer acquisition and fostering repeat customers. For brand marketers, this feature could also give Facebook more behavioral data on shopping history and habits, allowing brands to improve the relevance of ad targeting and News Feed content. Down the road, brands should also be able to advertise their Rewards on Facebook to drive store traffic and promote sales event.


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook Rolled Out Special Camera Frame For Earth Day

What Happened
Facebook celebrated Earth Day this past Saturday with a themed camera frame, marking the latest seasonal frame to debut on the social network. The camera frames, which are static overlays for photos and videos taken in Facebook’s main app and Messenger app, are now open to third-party developers as part of the Camera Effects platform that the company launched last week at its annual developer conference F8. Facebook said the first batch of camera frames created by third-party developers will start to roll out in May, with more selfie lenses and face-tracking effects coming in June.

What Brands Need To Do
The arrival of new camera frames is but one result of Facebook’s launch of the new Camera Effects platform, which enables developers to create third-party mobile AR experiences inside its main apps. While static picture frames may not seem like the most high-tech thing as far as digital marketing experiences go, the fact that brands can use Facebook’s platform tools to easily create branded frames that could reach Facebook’s nearly 2 billion active users worldwide is a big deal. And that is just the starting point for brands to explore camera as the newest platform. In order to properly insert your brand into the media that Facebook users share to earn organic impressions., brands need to work with developers to create fun, interesting, and engaging camera effects that users will want to use and share.

For a more in-depth analysis on Facebook’s announcements at this year’s F8, check out our latest Fast Forward here.


Source: AdWeek

Fast Forward: Camera As A Platform Takes The Spotlight At Facebook F8 2017

Editor’s Note: As a general version of our actionable intelligence products, this version only includes generic suggestions for brands. For industry-specific versions, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]).

The highlights:

Facebook stakes a claim in mobile AR with Camera Effects Platform
• Messenger Platform updated with better discovery and smarter bots
• Social VR generates new use cases for 360-degree content

On Tuesday, Facebook kicked off its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, where the social media giant unveiled several new initiatives aimed at ushering in the next stage of its mobile empire via camera-enabled augmented reality, social VR, and new AI-powered Messenger experiences. The Lab was on the ground at this year’s event to attend developer sessions and bring you all the things that marketers need to know about Facebook’s announcements this year.

Facebook Goes All-In On Camera-Enabled Mobile AR

The biggest takeaway from this year’s F8 is that Facebook is prioritizing mobile AR in its development plan and giving Snapchat a run for its money. Facebook has been busy adding “Snapchat-clone” AR features across its mobile apps during the past year or so. However, for mobile AR to truly go mainstream, it needs to evolve beyond wacky selfie lenses and start providing real value for users. And that requires an open platform that developers can leverage to create new interactive experiences. This is where Facebook’s new Camera Effects platform comes in.

Facebook is rolling out this Camera Effects developer platform in two stages. The first one, Frame Studio, is live now and accessible to anyone with a Facebook account. You can use it to create static overlaid image frames for photos and videos shared on Facebook by simply uploading a still image, no coding required. The frames created will start appearing in the Facebook Camera for your friends or fans of a Page in May. The next stage is AR Studio, which enables designers and developers to create more sophisticated AR camera effects and interactive experiences in Facebook Camera. It is currently in closed beta, and Facebook says some AR effects will become available to public in June.

With AR Studio, designers will be able to use Photoshop-like tools to create animated masks and lenses which automatically map to facial features, such as crowns and animal faces. More AI-powered tools such as SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) positioning and object recognition are coming later this year, which will allow developers to tie AR effects to specific objects or locations visible within the frame. In the future, users will also be able to add augmented reality notes to specific real-world locations, so they could, for example, tell friends their favorite dish at a restaurant.

The AR effects also won’t be one-size-fits-all, as developers using AR Studio will be able to customize those AR camera effects with data from the network, such as sports scores, weather, and travel data. They can also access data from the mobile device’s sensors, such as GPS location, orientation, speed, and even face/gesture recognition to create more personalized user experiences. In a clever touch, Facebook added call-to-action “Try It” buttons to appear alongside the AR effects to encourage user sampling and viral spreading. Creators will also be able to target their creations according to location, day and time, and all the standard demographic targeting from Facebook’s ad platform. For now, this targeting comes at no charge to the creator.

With the launch of this camera-based AR platform, Facebook is staking a claim in AR, building the platform and tools to create interactive experiences which use the camera as an input. Right now, that’s limited to the Facebook app on our smartphones, but Zuckerberg did mention “AR glasses” a couple of times in his opening keynote address, and Facebook will be in a good position to capitalize on glasses (or any other AR, like car windshields) with this developer platform, which allows developers to “code against the real world” and unleash a tidal wave of crowd-sourced creative to overtake Snapchat’s Lenses, which are all currently built in-house.

Facebook Camera EffectsFacebook F8 AR Studio

Messenger Platform Gets Smarter Thanks To A.I. And M Integrations

Besides the shiny new AR developer platform, Facebook is also renewing its commitment to building out the Messenger Platform with a major upgrade aimed at making its messaging app smarter and more brand-friendly. The Messenger Platform 2.0 Facebook launched on Tuesday comes with new tabs for businesses and bots, offline support for parametric QR codes, as well as new Chat Extensions that can provide new experiences in group chats.

With 200 million messages sent between businesses and users since last year and 100 thousand bots already on the platform, Facebook is already the “white pages” of the internet. Now it wants to also become the “yellow pages” with the upcoming addition of a Discover tab dedicated to chatbots, making it easier for users to discover new bots that they may find interesting or useful. Messenger users can tap the hexagon icon on the bottom right and see a list of Featured businesses along with popular bots, what’s nearby, and a variety of categories like Food & Drink, Lifestyle, and News.

To further aid bot discovery, Facebook updated the parametric QR Messenger codes to allow users to quickly connect with a bot (say at an event or a concert) just by scanning the codes with their camera in Messenger. Multiple codes can be generated for the same bot so as to offer some context such as locations and analytical data for the bot, which then may offer a more tailored response accordingly – for example, deep linking to information about a specific location, inside of a bot which covers a national retail chain. This also gives users a reason to scan even if they’re already connected to the bot.

Prior to F8, Facebook had already started to roll out its AI-powered virtual assistant M on Messenger to offer automated suggestions such as calling an Uber or looking up local restaurants based on the conversations. At this week’s event, they announced the first way for third parties to integrate with M using the new Chat Extensions functionality. Chat Extensions allow a more graphical interface to open within the message thread. For instance, Facebook announced on stage a Spotify integration that will allow people to easily search and share music with each other, without ever leaving Messenger. They work in a similar way as Apple’s iMessage apps, where you can pull up an applet to access a developer-controlled experience within Messenger, and then share the results of that back to your chat. Over time, M will learn to recognize a task a user is trying to accomplish, and recommend Chat Extensions which may be able to help.

Facebook is also working to make its messaging system smarter and more responsive by launching Smart Replies for small businesses that don’t necessarily have the resources to build a full-on chatbot but still want an easy way to communicate with customers. This new AI-enabled feature will allow businesses to enable automated answers to frequently asked questions, thus simplifying the customer service on Facebook Pages and Messenger. Smart Replies are currently being trialed with U.S. restaurants, with information populated directly from their websites, no data entry or setup required.

Facebook Messenger Chat Extensions Facebook Messenger Parametric QR Codes

Social VR Generates New Use Case For 360-Degree Content

Looking beyond the camera and Messenger, Facebook is also taking a big step in virtual reality with the launch of Facebook Spaces, marking the company’s first significant integration of virtual reality into its core social product. It will run on Oculus Rift with the Touch controllers to bring social interactions into 3D virtual spaces, allowing users to generate personalized avatars and hang out together in virtual reality.

Unlike most online social platforms, the communication in Facebook Spaces won’t be text-oriented, but instead will rely on voice, facial expressions, and body language. In a demo, Facebook’s photo recognition AI helps users to create animated avatars of themselves, who can then hang out together in both virtual spaces as well as real world settings based on 360-degree photos and videos. Facebook describes it as a “virtual dinner party,” where users can talk, create 3D objects, explore 360 videos, and even take in-VR selfies.

Facebook has indicated that although Spaces is designed to be a home screen for VR, third party integrations won’t appear in the forms of VR apps, but rather as environments and objects inside the virtual space.

In addition, Facebook Spaces can use Messenger to place video calls to people out in real world, which is an interesting distribution strategy to spread awareness for this new product. People who receive video calls from Facebook Spaces will show up in the virtual space on a flat screen as normal video calls would appear, but they will be able to see and talk with their friends’ virtual avatars.

Facebook Spaces Social VR

What Brands Need To Do

Altogether, what Facebook announced on Tuesday are indicative of how the world’s biggest online audience aggregator is going to evolve, and it is up to brands to keep up with this evolution into mobile AR and social VR. The launch of the Camera Effects platform holds great potential for brands, as it allows them to work with developers to create AR camera effects to engage mobile users and, in some cases, pull in personal and contextual data to create unique experiences that they will want to share.

Facebook showcased some AR effects from its brand partners on stage, including a Nike headband overlay that featured bragging right stats from your recent run and an overlaid map, a Mass Effect-themed helmet mask that pulls in stats from your game progress, as well as a video lens created by Manchester United that pulls in real-time soccer match scores, completed with “GOAL!” and falling confetti overlays.

For now, however, there are currently no paid placement opportunities. The AR effects will be surfaced via a ranking algorithm within the camera itself, based on attributes such as location, date/time, and keywords, as well as how likely they think an individual is to share according to their past behaviors. But the “Try It” call-to-actions on shared media is an incentive to create great lenses, as it will help them earn organic distribution on the platform.

Brands looking to stay ahead of the technological curve need to start developing a AR strategy today to organically insert their brands directly into the camera and therefore into the photos and videos that people share on Facebook. While the current lenses appear similar to Snapchat, the open developer platform means that Facebook’s AR lenses will advance quickly, and are available to anyone with the designers and developers to create compelling experiences.

For CPG brands, this could mean creating fun, seasonal frames or AR lenses to remind consumers of your products and target users based on Facebook’s data, whereas healthcare and fitness brands can take some inspiration from the Nike headband lens Facebook demoed and start thinking about how to create similar AR camera effects that can amplify and enrich a great health and fitness experience for their customers.

With Messenger Platform 2.0., brands will have better tools to create smarter chatbots to connect with the over 1.2 billion active users on Messenger. Brands should consider creating various physical call-to-actions with the new parametric QR Messenger codes linking to their chatbots within different contexts, thus creating convenient chat experiences for users by deep-link them to specific functions within the bots. For restaurants and QSR brands, this could creating different QR codes for different restaurant locations and leverage location data to provide a localized experience for the customers when they turn to chatbots for information or directions.

In addition, brands also need to start thinking about ways to use Chat Extension to create experiences within Messenger that don’t fit in a bot/conversational interface. For retailers, this could mean creating an extension similar to what Mode.ai is doing to reach shoppers in chats.

While the beta launch of Facebook Spaces is not integrated with Facebook’s main platform and therefore limited in its opportunities for brand integrations, this is only the starting point for social VR, and we are confident that brands will have plenty of ways to get into the virtual social spaces as Facebook continues to build out this platform.

As many of the virtual environments in Facebook Spaces are generated from 360-degree photos and videos, pulled right from a user’s Facebook Photos, it’s a great incentive for brands to start investing in 360 content now, and getting it in the hands of their customers. Sharing that content in Spaces could be a great way to enable existing fans to advocate for your destination, hotel, car, or entertainment experience.

How We Can Help

While mobile AR and social VR are still in early stages of development, brands greatly benefit by starting to develop strategies for these two emerging areas. If you’re not sure where to start, the Lab is at your service.

The Lab has always been fascinated by the enormous potential of AR and its ability to transform our physical world. If you haven’t read our analysis on the Pokémon Go phenomenon last summer, which introduced AR technology to mainstream consumers, you can check it out here for more AR-related brand suggestions. We’re excited at having an open development platform from Facebook, allowing us to develop mobile AR experiences that can scale to reach billions of people. If you’d like to discuss more about how your brand can properly harness the power of mobile AR to engage your customers and create extra value, please reach out and get in touch with us.

We also have extensive experience in building AI-powered chatbots to reach consumers on messaging apps. The Niro bot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of our chatbot expertise. To help our clients create an optimized conversational experience, we developed Dialogue, a dedicated conversational practice backed by our stack of best-in-class technology partners and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

As for VR, our dedicated team of experts is here to guide marketers through the distribution landscape. We work closely with brands to develop sustainable VR content strategies to promote branded VR and 360 video content across various apps and platforms. With our proprietary technology stack powered by a combination of best-in-class VR partners, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

If you’d like to know how the Lab can help your brand figure out how to tap into these tech trends manifested at F8 to supercharge your marketing efforts, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

What To Expect From This Year’s Facebook F8 Event

What’s Happening
Facebook’s annual developer conference F8 will take place this Tuesday and Wednesday in San Jose, where the company is expected to announce updates and lay out its plan for some of its key initiatives such as messaging, artificial intelligence, and live video. This year’s event will kick off with a keynote from CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday morning, and will presumably cover most of those key areas as before, possibly with some additional discussions on Facebook’s role in combating fake news and promoting global connectivity.

At the F8 event last year, Facebook launched its bot platform for Messenger, demoed a more “social” virtual reality with Oculus, and rolled out a 360-degree video camera, and we expect to see updates in all three areas this year as well. In fact, Facebook has already unveiled several things that will be covered at this year’s event, including bots for Messenger groups, offline Instagram, and a new Camera Effects Platform allowing developers to create more features for the Facebook camera, both in its flagship app and Messenger.

What Brands Need To Do
Facebook and its various properties and apps are still unparalleled in their global reach and utterly dominating in terms of mobile time spent. Facebook Messenger just passed over 1.2 billion monthly active users this week. Its aggressive cloning of Snapchat’s features has apparently started to pay off, with its Instagram Stories surpassing Snapchat in monthly active user earlier this month. The new Camera Effects platform also hints at Facebook’s ambition in pushing deeper into selfie lenses and other mobile AR features. Moreover, Facebook Live also presents a strong area of media growth, as the company announced earlier this month that live video now account for 20% of video on the platform, with the number of broadcasts grown more than four times over the last year.

This year, the Lab has a special team attending F8 to bring us the latest announcements. You can follow us on Twitter @ipglab for live updates. Also, remember to check back for our in-depth take on Facebook’s new products and services and how they would impact the future of brand marketing.


Source: TechCrunch

Facebook Adds Call-To-Action Buttons To Instant Articles

What Happened
Facebook has added some long-anticipated call-to-action units to Instant Articles, its program for fast-tracking web page loading on mobile. Facebook opened up Instant Articles to all publishers last year, making it possible for brands to put their branded content as Instant Articles as well. But the design of Instant Articles stayed “read only,” with limited options for publishers and content creators to engage further with the readers, until today. Now, thanks to the call-to-action units, Facebook is allowing content creators to drive signups for newsletters and subscriptions.

What Brands Need To Do
Instant Articles is an important tool for brands pushing out content on Facebook because it promises to significantly shorten the page loading time on mobile, which is a big factor in page abandonment. According to surveys conducted by Kissmetrics, about half online consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and tend to abandon the ones that failed to load within 3 seconds.

This Instant Articles update provides publishers and content creators a direct way to communicate with their audiences and establish a long-term relationship with them. This new feature makes Instant Articles a much more valuable channel for brands to invest their branded or sponsored content in, and more brands considering using Facebook’s social platforms to reach customers on mobile need to take advantage of this new tool.


Source: AdWeek

Facebook Rolls Out M Assistant To All Messenger Users

What Happened
Facebook’s AI-powered chat assistant M is finally ready to meet the public, just in time for its upcoming annual F8 developer conference. M will analyze your messages in the Facebook Messenger app to understand your intent and, when applicable, will pop up into chats to make suggestions or complete tasks on your behalf, such as calling an Uber or setting a reminder, based on the context of the conversations. Facebook has started rolling out M to iOS and Android users in the US, with a broader expansion around the globe in the coming months. Facebook first announced the AI assistant service in September 2015 but only started testing it in a limited capacity since last December.

What Brands Need To Do
The arrival of M on Messenger marks an important milestone in Facebook’s development of a conversational assistant service that can help it stay in competition with rivals such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.  Having a contextually aware smart assistant on standby would certainly bares huge potential in making Facebook’s messaging apps more brand-friendly, but for now, Facebook is taking a decidedly neutral approach to designing M with little room for brand integrations as of now. Nevertheless, the deployment of M still marks Facebook’s determination of building Messenger as a platform that brands of all types could benefit greatly from. And it is time to start expanding your customer service from phone call-based to include text-based messaging, reaching consumers on the platforms they already use.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive knowledge about reaching consumers on mobile messaging apps and building branded chatbots. The new NiroBot we build in collaboration with Ansible for Kia delivers comprehensive product information about the all-new Niro model via friendly chats. We’ve also built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue to help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: The Verge

Facebook Expands Branded Content And Marks Them As “Paid”

What Happened
On Thursday Facebook updated several policies regarding branded content on its platform, enabling more pages to share it and updating its branded content tag to include the word “paid.” The social network first started allowing verified Pages to publish branded content last April, before adding branded content options to its Instant Articles last June. Now, non-verified pages can submit applications for access to the branded content tool, which will be available on iOS apps and the web, with Android support to come in the coming weeks. In addition, Facebook now also allows logos, watermarks and graphical overlays to persist throughout a video to help brands and publishers to distinguish their content.

What Brands Need To Do
This update marks Facebook’s latest efforts to make its platform more brand-friendly by facilitating brands to serve their content to Facebook’s billions of users worldwide. At a time when an increasing number of consumers are turning on ad-blockers and opting for ad-free subscription services to actively avoid ads, branded content provides an un-blockable way to organically reach customers and influence their purchase intent. For brands looking to leverage branded content to engage customers, Facebook’s update should come as a welcome addition as it allows more influencers to post branded or sponsored content.


Source: Marketing Land

Facebook Starts Developing Chatbots For Group Chat

What Happened
Facebook is reportedly ready to introduce some new chatbots at its upcoming F8 developer conference that will appear in group chats on Messenger. These group bots are not intended to be part of the conversation, but to keep users informed about real-time news such as a sports game’s progress, e-commerce deliveries and more. Previously, Facebook had a similar vision for its virtual assistant M to pop up in group Messenger chats whenever it’s needed. But these new bots seem to be more specialized in their functionalities.

What Brands Need To Do
According to eMarketer’s forecast, the number of messaging app users worldwide will reach 2 billion by 2018, which will be 80% of smartphone users. A significant portion of today’s mobile communications happen on messaging apps, yet many brands are missing out on this so-called “dark social” channel. This new group chat bot initiative underscores Facebook’s commitment to building out its Messenger bot platform, giving brands an opportunities to reach more mobile customers by providing useful services in group chats.

The Lab has extensive knowledge about reaching consumers on mobile messaging apps and building branded chatbots. The new NiroBot we build in collaboration with Ansible for Kia delivers comprehensive product information about the all-new Niro model via friendly chats. If you’re interested in reaching your audience on messaging apps and better serving them with a chatbot, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett ([email protected]) for more information or to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: TechCrunch