Monday, March 30, 2015

F8 2015 Launches - Messenger for Commerce, Parse for IOT and Drones for Internet.Org - What more can you ask?

F8, Facebook's annual developer conference shows a glimpse of Facebook's innovation for its own products and for its ecosystem of entrepreneurial developers and marketers. This year's F8 (Mar 25, 26)  top announcements are Messenger Platform and support for Internet of Things to connect to Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg shared a vision of how Facebook is now a set of apps on mobile and his team presented different innovations upon different Apps.

Messenger and Parse for IOT ( Day 1) and Drones for (Day 2) are the top announcements that excite me most because of the beautifully designed products and strategic business opportunities.

Here's a 3 min summary of Day 1 #F8 announcements. Read on as I share what it means for you as a user or as a business.

1. Messenger Platform

David Markcus made this *huge* and strategic announcement! Messenger has opened up APIs for developers to connect their Apps to Facebook Messenger App.

What this means:
A. Messenger can call other Apps seamlessly from inside Messenger which allows users to share fun content like customized videos.
This will allow us to create multi-media content (video, modified pictures or fun annotations in video or pictures) using other apps and share within messenger. The receiver will see the content but also a link for the app that was used to create the content. This is similar to Applink, the deep-linking capability Facebook added last year. But this is very strategic for Facebook's business because now they can help other App developers download more of their apps right from messenger (like they offer with Mobile Ads) and can monetize it.
Another subtle implication of this brilliant design is how Messenger will show top apps to create new content for users. This is like Firefox showing a search box and can decide which search engine they show as the top choice driving traffic to that search engine. Now Facebook can impact the ranking and distribution of Apps in that category or decide on a ranking algorithm or charge for App developer to get more downloads and clicks.

B. Messenger can communicate to Businesses.
This has a huge Commerce implication and also a strategic shift in Customer Support facilitating 1:1 interaction with customers after a purchase.
When you buy a jacket from Patagonia, you now choose to receive the receipt via messenger. Then you can refresh the same message to track the purchase and delivery of the item.
From a product design perspective this means that the business becomes your 'friend' on messenger and now has a 1:1 channel to communicate with you, their customer. This brings a huge business opportunity for Facebook to monetize this traffic, engagement, customer support and influencer referral channels with businesses.

I am so excited about this!!! I'll play with the new Messenger Platform options and write a separate article.

More details here

2. Drone for Remote Internet Access from

Facebook is building Drones for remote locations to hover at 60000 feet and provide Internet access.
What this means -This is exciting because of the goodwill of bringing internet access to remote locations. Also the sheer audacity of the idea and execution is exciting showing us that Facebook has innovative people and gives them room to execute their ideas taking us on the ride with them and building trust on all their other offerings as an innovative technology company.
Here's the video showing the drones.

2. IOT for Parse

Ilya Sukhar announced Parse for IOT (Internet of Things). They offer a library for IOT devices and underlying chips of IOT like arduino to talk to Facebook's Parse platform to send notification alerts.

What this means:
Parse offers notification for mobile apps. Notifications are the alerts that reminds us about products we wanted to buy, games where our friends have out smartened us and email and message reminders, all bringing engagement back to Apps.
Now developers can use the Parse IOT library and send notifications from Internet of Thing devices to Facebook apps. IOT devices have several sensors which send alerts to companion apps. This offers the alert platform and saves developers the trouble of building this server side component.
This also offers a whole new feeds channel for Facebook and ties developers closely to Facebook via the Parse Platform. e.g Chamberlain App offers an IOT for your garage that can send an alert when the garage is open.

Here's an example code for a water planting IOT device shared on stage at F8
More details here

3. Facebook Analytics for Apps

App developers will have a single dashboard to see Ad campaigns results across all apps and all devices with detailed analytics.

What this means:
Developers can understand how people in aggregate are using their Apps and make informed decisions on targeting users, or improving app product flow. For example cross device online Retailer Zulily is a Facebook beta partner. They found that for every 10 men and 10 women coming in 4 women add items to cart only 2 men added items to cart, then both men and women get the same purchase conversation from that step forward. This is analytics provided by Facebook. Zulily can use this insight and decide whether to add more inventory for men or focus marketing on women or take a different action to drive more revenues to their business.

More details here

3. Unified Social Login with new version of Comments Plug-In

Facebook comments on sites and on Facebook will continue seamlessly with a new Comments Plugin for websites.

What this means:
We log onto several web sites and mobile apps using Facebook Login. The conversation on an article stay on the web site, different from conversation on Facebook on the same topic. Now the conversation on a site (where we login using Facebook) will continue under the article shared on Facebook.

This is a complex piece of privacy logic that Facebook has implemented seamlessly. A comment on the web site will show up on Facebook for all to see. A users' comments to articles shared by friends in Facebook will show up on the site only if they allow for public sharing else it will be visible on the site only for their friends or friends of friends based on their setting.
This is a useful feature and a complex one to create a seamless user flow, so it is a good win for improved user experience from Facebook.

This is good for marketers as the conversations will not be fragmented and they can check holistic engagement of users.

More details here

4. Embedded video Plugin

Zuckerberg shows a futuristic sneak peak of spherical video taken using 24 cameras saying we can such videos on Facebook in the future. The announcement was about the capability to share Facebook videos on external web sites.

What this means:
We can now share Facebook videos one external web sites similar to how we can put YouTube videos or Vimeo videos on our blogs or websites. Users share 3Bil videos shared every day on Facebook. This will create more video views and inventory for Facebook to potentially sell video Ads competing with Google.

5. Audience Network

Last year Audience Network launched for apps to monetize Apps. LiveRail also part of Facebook, will manage mobile banner ads. Facebook calls it 'People based approach' to monetization of user's audience network.

More details here


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