Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
FB at F8: Can We Still Be Friends?
F8, Facebook’s annual-ish Developer Conference, heralded expected new features (AR, VR) and unexpected (Facebook Dating), with a not-suprising focus on privacy and ‘community connection’ as it seeks to regain trust from developers and users alike. Among the updates to note:
AR This: In direct response to Snap’s latest AR capes, FB’s AR Studio allows devs (or any Creator, really – it’s ‘drag and drop’ usability requires no knowledge of code) to create face filters and effects for their Insta followers, which users can also discover and try out from their friends’ Stories – allowing filters to have the potential for virality in ways that Snap can’t support (yet). It also includes a tracking system that enables devs to seamlessly design to users’ real-world contexts – who needs FB ads when a filter can unlock an immersive virtual billboard of branded experiences? FB rounded out its AR updates with AR effects for Messenger, enabling brands to share virtual experiences for consumers to try on/out in real time before buying.
VR That: Selfie filters are just the beginning. FB showcased the ability to create VR environments, enabling users to capture any object in 3D and insert it into their physical domain with FB camera, as well as turning any photo into a FB post that becomes 3D on scroll.
Hot Topics: Following its recent ‘hashtag following’ update, Instagram rolled out an Explore tab organized into categorical channels based on users’ interests from related hashtags. As Instagram Stories continues its dominance, FB made it easier to share activity within other apps (ie. Spotify, GoPro) directly to Stories – without having to connect an Insta account.
Make it Work: AR Studio is refreshingly easy-to-use in its ability to arm marketers with rich AR features that connect directly consumers’ real-world experiences. It inspires some massive ideas for influencer marketing as AR and VR become mainstream. Marketers have the opportunity to incorporate these effects into their content strategy by co-creating branded filters and effects with influencers to maximize discoverability and adoption; leveraging contextual tracking features that encourage consumers to bring 3D objects and branded content to life in-feed; and connecting with audiences across apps with new branded story templates (9:16) that make it easy for influencers to share to Stories directly.
Hashtags are also now just as important as the creators themselves. With new privacy standards in place and limited identity targeting in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, topical interests are the new signals of relevance. Facebook is emphasizing interest-based, categorical communities connected by hashtag use – especially on Instagram, which means that marketers need to revisit their hashtag strategy across Insta intiatives to make sure their content is discoverable.
F8, 2: The Fast and the Furious ‘Bad Content’ Removal
To emphasize the hashtag’s growing importance, FB also announced at F8 that is has trained an image recognition system on 3.5 billion publically available photos using the hashtags on those photos in place of its human-powered content review process.
The result is FB’s increased capacity to use AI to identify and remove bad content before a person flags it – including blocking fake accounts and spam-like patterns of behavior. In doing so, FB lays the foundation as well for better influencer fraud detection, which could range from automatically identifying what percentage of an influencers’ followers are fake, to flagging indicators of engagement gamification.
The End of MTA as We Know It?
Multi-touch attribution has never been easy – but as of May 25th, it may be near impossible outside of any given platform. With increased government scrutiny and in response to GDPR regulations, Google will no longer provide or allow exports of user id data (e.g. DoubleClick Ids, Cookie Ids and IP addresses) from its ad server, DSP, or ad exchange. The move cuts off visibility to user activity within the DoubleClick ecosystem and limits marketers’ ability to measure the reach and frequency of campaigns to Google’s own Ads Data Hub.
Which is only one of many moves from the big 5 of late that leaves marketers in a hot measurement mess, leaving little choice but to invest deeper into the walled ecosystems each platform. Eventually, data privacy certifications could mean the return of unified access to user data – but for the moment, it leaves marketers to determine what will be the de-facto user id of record to measure their marketing activity. As Gartner’s Martin Kihn points out, it also means marketers need to pair their MMM and MTA models together for a hollistic view of online and offline media attribution and an deeper investment in owned, first-party data collection in efforts to regain some control of their audience strategies.
For Your Coworker Who Watched Katy Perry’s 96-Hour Live Stream …
Here’s to year two! In its NewFronts presentation, Brandcast, YouTube introduced a slate of ad-suppored Originals programming from Hollywood talent and creators. With Google also making it harder for marketers to implement independent attribution (see above), YT is doubling down on topical targeting and measurement.
In additon to sharing new signals for affinity segments available to Google Preferred advertisers, YouTube announced partnerships with third-party tools like MOAT and Nielsen Catalina Solutions that enable marketers to measure the effectiveness of YouTube campaigns in terms of viewability and sales lift, among others. Consider this the impact of the ‘Marc Pritchard Effect’, and why he’s willing to give the platform a second look.
Instagram Closes the Commerce Loop
Instagram started testing a new native payments feature that enables consumers to buy products they see in-feed, which could quickly accelerate the platform’s dominance in the e-commerce space. The move not only gives brands another reason to invest in its dynamic product ads, but as well as, a way to directly tie influencer partnerships and influencer-generated content directly to revenue driven as a result.