Those in attendance at Facebook’s recent F8 conference in San Jose witnessed a wide array of insights into the direction of each of the platforms in its impressive portfolio.
Ultimately it appears they are going bigger than ever, gunning for all the major players in the digital world by introducing many new features and flicking the switch of ‘purpose’ across many elements. The announcements leave me wondering if anyone is safe as they went right through the list from Linkedin to WeChat and even Netflix to name but a few, go big or go home springs to mind!
However, the biggest single headline for many relates to the major and very significant moves in relation to privacy.
Taking recent history and the ongoing multi-billion dollar battle in the US into account, privacy is, without doubt, something that Facebook needed to address. So, whilst the focus comes as no surprise it does still feel a bit alien to hear Mark Zuckerberg making the statement ‘the future is private’.
The approach is focused on scaling down, using their own analogy if Facebook and Instagram have been the digital equivalent of the town square they believe, the need is now for the digital equivalent of the living room. The point here being that the fastest growing ways of communicating online are the use of smaller groups and private messaging, not mass broadcast. Let’s not forget of course that FB messenger and WhatsApp already form part of their combined offering, so the reality is they certainly understand user behaviour.
As to exactly how this will translate in terms of advertising direction and opportunities there is no 100% clear answer. A switch in focus and strategy for advertisers is certainly on the cards, how exactly this pans out is yet to be seen. What we do know for a fact is that Facebook will ensure that the commercial opportunity is significant and that advertising in multiple forms will be utilised to the full. For example, organic posts for brands within these small groups is off the cards as the brand won’t be included in the groups. This allows a focus on paid opportunities, the execution of which needs to be handled very carefully.
Do these changes address the concerns with fake news, hate speech and other misleading information that should concern us all … it would seem probably not! In fact, many have been left to believe that the changes appear to worsen the situation in some ways. Remember, there is nowhere to hide … unless you have complete privacy that is!
On the plus side, amongst the numerous new features and design tweaks announced there are various new formats and ‘purchase options’ to shorten conversion paths. Overall the opportunity for advertisers will be vast, although it may take a little time to truly settle. Ultimately If people are more comfortable in an environment then they are more susceptible to messages received, this is without doubt of real value.
Overall, this is a positive move from Facebook and one that demonstrates movement in the right direction, a private direction.
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