Facebook Launches Snapchat Clone Features On Its Main App

What Happened
Facebook added new Snapchat-inspired features to its main app after launching them on Instagram, Messenger, and Whatsapp over the past year. Now users of Facebook’s flagship mobile app will be able to use 3D live camera filters, decorate their photos with drawings and stickers, sending disappearing private messages to each other, and share their photos and videos via a disappearing Story feature that works identically to Instagram Stories, which itself is a near copy of Snapchat Stories. Story updates from your Facebook friends will appear as circles atop your News Feed as in Instagram, and they will automatically vanish after 24 hours of posting.

What Brands Need To Do
As we noted when Facebook launched Messenger Day, the social network is doing everything in its power to curb Snapchat’s rapid growth and defend its ground in mobile messaging by mimicking Snapchat’s camera-first approach to app design. And so far it seems to be working, with reports claiming the popularity of Instagram Stories and Snapchat’s slowing user growth.

We are approaching an age where cameras are increasingly becoming one of the primary input sources of our digital life. Beyond the visual communication features pioneered by Snapchat, we are also seeing some brands get in on with the trend. For instance, Olay created a Skin Advisor platform that offers skin consultations and product recommendations by analyzing the selfies users took. The surging prominence of visual input is set to bring a new set of opportunities and challenges that brands will need to learn to navigate in order to adapt to the shifting consumer behaviors.


Source: Facebook

Header image courtesy of Facebook Newsroom

A Roundup Of This Week’s Biggest News In VR

What Happened
This past week has been a busy week for VR announcements, with Facebook, Vimeo, and CNN all announced noteworthy VR initiatives. Let’s take a look one by one.

On Wednesday, Facebook debuted its first dedicated virtual reality app, Facebook 360. As its first dedicated VR app, the app will serve as a hub for the 360 video and photo content posted to the site. At launch, the Facebook 360 app will be available only for the Gear VR mobile headset.

Also on Wednesday, popular online video site Vimeo announced it has added support for 360-degree videos. 360-degree playback is now integrated into the Vimeo website as well as the iOS and Android apps. At launch, you can view Vimeo’s 360-degree videos in select mobile-powered VR headsets, including Google Daydream, Samsung’s Gear VR, and the Zeiss VR One. Vimeo says support for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive is coming soon.

Earlier this week, CNN launched of CNNVR, a new immersive journalism unit that will put a virtual spin on cable news. The dedicated team will produce videos and live streams of major news events, along with a weekly virtual reality experience that viewers can access via CNNVR on the Samsung VR app, the Oculus Video app on Rift, or on the CNNVR app on Google Daydream.

What Brands Need To Do
This initiative should help further push virtual reality content into the mainstream consumer market. Facebook 360 and the VR support on Vimeo should provide two new valuable channes for brands to distribute their VR content, and CNN’s VR content unit could potentially spell marketing opportunities. As more mainstream tech and media companies rush into VR to capitalize on the booming popularity of the emerging medium, bands should take a cue and start developing VR content that truly enhances brand messaging and contributes to the campaign objectives.

How We Can Help
Our dedicated team of VR 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 and backed by the media fire-power of IPG Mediabrands, we offer customized solutions for distributing and measuring branded VR content that truly enhance brand messaging and contribute to the campaign objectives.

The Lab currently has several VR headsets, including a PlayStation VR, an Oculus Rift, an HTC Vive, and a Google Daydream, all ready for demos. Virtual reality is something that has to be experienced to be understood, so come by the Lab and ask for a VR demo to get a hands-on experience and figure out how your brand can use it to excite and engage with consumers.


Sources: as linked in the article

Facebook Launches Mid-Roll Ads In Live Videos, Start Testing In Non-Live Videos

What Happened
In a bid to further monetize its growing video content, Facebook has opened mid-roll ads to more Live videos, extending the ability for certain Pages and Profiles to insert mid-roll video ads, which it dubs “ad breaks,” into their Facebook Live broadcasts. Facebook first started testing mid-roll ads in Live videos in August. This means more broadcasters can show 15-second ads within their livestreams while receiving part of the ad revenue.

The company also announced it has officially started testing mid-roll ads in non-Live videos, including the ones uploaded by users. Facebook says ad breaks will only be available after the first four minutes of playback, with additional ad breaks available after every five minutes.

What Brands Need To Do
With Facebook users watching 100 million hours of video every day, the site is quickly evolving beyond a mere social network into an online video destination. Earlier this month, the company announced it is building an OTT streaming app for viewing its video content, following a series of initiatives focused on improving its video products. As Facebook continues to add new video ad products to its increasingly video-heavy social platforms, brands may consider adjusting their video budgets accordingly to reach today’s mobile consumers in a more targeted, effective way


Source: Marketing Land

Facebook Messenger Updates Platform Policies To Allow Unprompted Messages

What Happened
Facebook has updated its Messenger Platform policies to offer brands more agency in their efforts to reach customers on the chat app. Customers still need to be the one of initiate the contact, but now brands have a 24-hour window since the customer’s last message to send unprompted messages. Facebook has also removed a previous restriction on promotional content for this type of standard messaging, allowing brands to send customers an ad or a value offer within a day of their chat.

Moreover, a new subscription messaging is now in being tested to allow communication with a user outside of the 24-hour window. It specifically disallows all promotional content and only open to limited use cases such as news and productivities. Notably, these two updates seem to be inspired by WeChat, which divides all commercial accounts into subscription accounts and service accounts so as to differentiate their use cases and limit how many messages a brand can send users within a month.

What Brands Need To Do
As Facebook loosens its policies for brands to reach Messenger users with promotional and unpromoted messages, it would be smart for brands to adopt a responsible approach and develop a communication strategy for reaching customers on Messenger. The promotional message allowed within the 24-hour window is particularly important for re-engaging them. If the use cases fit, brands with a repertoire of non-promotional content should also consider using subscription messaging to create a consistent brand presence on Messenger app.

How We Can Help
Based on our extensive experience in building branded chatbots to reach consumers, the Lab has developed a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational 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’re interested in learning more about this or have a client opportunity, please reach out to our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: Facebook Developer News


Facebook Announced Free Video App For Apple TV And Amazon Fire TV [Updated]

What Happened
After a week of speculations, Facebook has finally confirmed that it will be soon launching a free video app for OTT streaming devices such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV devices, and Samsung Smart TV,  with more platforms to come. This way, viewers will be able to watch the videos they already see on Facebook on their TV screens. In addition, Facebook also added some tweaks to video playback, including defaulting the autoplay videos to play with the sound on, picture-in-picture video when people want to watch a video while scrolling, as well as a wide rollout of vertical video format.

Update: On March 1st, Facebook officially released new Video app for fourth-gen Apple TV.

What Brands Need To Do
This announcement reaffirms Facebook’s commitment to building out its video offering in order to vy for a bigger piece of the ad dollars pouring into digital video. Earlier this month, the social network announced an expansion of partnerships with third-party ad tech companies, promising to provide advertisers more data and a clear comparison between social ads and TV ads. And these new video initiatives are all about positioning Facebook as a video destination across platforms.

Once launched, the app would offer brand advertisers a valuable new video channel to leverage Facebook’s audience data to reach targeted customers. As Facebook continues its push into the digital video space and challenges YouTube for a piece of the growing video ad budget, brands should carefully consider their video strategies and take into account Facebook’s growing video ad products.


Source: Facebook Newsroom

Facebook Agrees To Independent Audit, Grants Advertisers More Control Over Video Ad Buys

What Happened
Following a series of blunders in video ad measurement and performance reporting in the past few months, Facebook announced on Friday that it has Facebook has agreed to let Media Rating Council (MRC), the media industry’s independent measurement monitor, audit the measurements it provides advertisers. In addition to being open to the audit, Facebook will also appease advertisers by offering more granular measurements for display ads, along with new ad buying and payment options for their video ads on its Audience Network ad network, such as only paying for viewers that watched the video with the sound on.

What Brands Need To Do
Facebook has received considerable flak for misreporting its video content performances, and it remains to be seen whether these new initiatives can help repair some of the damage to Facebook’s credibility as a video ad platform. That being said, Facebook still makes a compelling case for itself as a digital video channel, especially as its Live Video start to take off, which Facebook users are spending three times more time watching than non-live videos. As Facebook continues to make amends and improve its accountability, it would be wise for brand marketers to take a cautious and diligent approach to video ads on Facebook.  


Source: AdExchanger

Facebook Plans An OTT Streaming App As It Aims For More Video Ads

What Happened
According to The Wall Street Journal. Facebook is planning to launch an ad-supported streaming app for set-top devices, such as Roku and Apple TV, to showcase its growing video content. The social network giant is reportedly in talks with media companies to license long-form “premium” video content, but it is unclear whether user-generated video content will also be pulled in from News Feed.

What Brands Need To Do
This app follows Facebook’s relentless efforts over the past few years in cultivating video content as it makes a strong push for more video ads. Earlier this week, the social network announced an expansion of partnerships with third-party ad tech companies, promising to provide advertisers more data and a clear comparison between social ads and TV ads. Once launched, the app would offer brand advertisers a valuable new video channel to leverage Facebook’s audience data to reach targeted customers. As Facebook continues its push into the digital video space and challenges YouTube for a piece of the growing video ad budget, brands should carefully consider their video strategies and take into account Facebook’s growing video ad products.


Source: The Wall Street Journal

Facebook Adds Mid-Roll Ads To Non-Live Videos & Instagram Stories

What Happened
Facebook’s first order of ad business in the new year is to ramp up its in-stream video ads. The social media giant has started testing 15-second-long mid-roll ads inserted in between videos select publishers posted on Facebook. The ads would only appear after those videos have played for at least 20 seconds. Advertisers will have similar targeting options for those new in-stream ads, as they will be able to pick content categories in which they want their ads to run, such as sports or humor, and specify categories they want to avoid.

Similarly, Facebook has also started testing inserting short-form video ads in Instagram Stories, the Snapchat Story clone feature it added five months ago, The ads will work similarly to Snap ads, as full-screen, skippable videos that pop up in between Stories. Nike, Airbnb, and Buick are among brands that are testing this new ad product. According to Facebook, Instagram Stories are now used by 150 million users on a daily basis.

What Brands Should Do
When Facebook first started testing mid-roll ads in Live video in August, it was anticipated that such efforts would soon come to non-live videos as well. Facebook claims that its users watch 100 million hours of video every day, and has recently made some tweaks in its apps to simplify video discovery. As Facebook continues to add new video ad products to its increasingly video-heavy social platforms, brands may consider adjusting their video budgets accordingly to reach today’s mobile consumers in a more targeted, effective way.


Source: AdWeek & Marketing Land


Facebook Starts Testing AI-Powered “M Suggestions” In Messenger

What Happened
Facebook is getting ready to inject a dose of artificial intelligence into its Messenger app with “M suggestions,” which the company started limited beta testing today. Designed to help move your conversations along, Facebook’s machine learning-powered virtual assistant M will suggest appropriate responses and stickers according to the context. For example, M would surface several emojis for you to common phrases such as “thanks,” or suggest sharing your current location in response to a question such as “where are you?” Facebook says other suggestions Messenger already makes, such as event reminders and ride-hailing, will be rolled under the “M suggestions” as well.

What Brands Should Do
This move marks a promising start to Facebook’s roll-out of its virtual assistant service M, offering  a glimpse into how Facebook may position M in its messaging app and how brands may leverage it to build conversational customer service. We are optimistic that Facebook would open up M for sponsored content and branded recommendations in the near future, given Facebook’s trajectory in making Messenger’s platform more brand-friendly so far. And brands need to be ready for what could essentially be an updated version of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that plays around AI algorithms to make sure their content shows up in advantageous positions in M’s recommendations.

Machine learning and its brand implications is a topic we will be diving into in details in our upcoming Outlook 2017 report. Please check back in January to read more of our take on this hot industry trend.


Source: Engadget

Facebook To Test Live 360-Degree Video With Nat Geo

What Happened
Live video on Facebook is about to get a lot more immersive as the social network readies the debut of its first live 360-degree video for National Geographic. The nature and travel publisher will publish the first 360 Live video tomorrow at noon on its Facebook Page, documenting in spherical view as scientists emerge from the isolation pods at Utah’s Mars Desert Research Station. Facebook says live 360 broadcasting will be added to Facebook Live’s API later this month as it plans to roll out the capability to all Pages and users next year. Facebook is not the first major platform to combine these two emerging media formats as YouTube introduced its first live 360-degree video in February.

What Brands Should Do
This new feature further improves Facebook’s Live video product and offers content creators and brands a new way to connect with viewers with immersive and real-time content. At a time when many brand advertisers are starting to see the potential of 360-degree video, this move by Facebook should help it attract more experimentations as brands race to incorporate the immersive format into their digital ads. While it will not doubt take more careful planning and robust technical support to pull off, melding live streaming with 360-degree videos should provide brands a chance to connect with customers on a more urgent and interactive way that they should not miss out on.


Source: TechCrunch