Facebook F8 Developer Conference 2017: Preview

We discuss the key topics Facebook will cover at this year’s developer conference on April 18-19 2017.


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The saying goes, “innovation is hard because solving a problem people didn’t know they had and building something no one needs look identical at first”.

At this week’s Facebook F8 Developer Conference, this is what Zuckerberg and co will be attempting to showcase in San Jose, California as they unveil a plethora of new features and advances from within the Facebook ecosystem.

Last year we summarised the key takeaways from the conference as Facebook declared their 10-year mission to “connect the whole world”.

With this year’s F8 conference taking place on April 18-19, we have identified some of the key talking points and features that we expect Facebook to share.

Video: It’s all about Live

In a decade video will look like as big of a shift in the way we all share and communicate as mobile has been.

We are living through a transformational shift, where brands and media companies are competing for the attention of the consumer. In what we know as the ‘Attention Economy,’ is a world where the attention of the consumer is a valuable commodity that brands, publishers and media owners compete to capture. Therefore, capturing the attention of the consumer at the lowest available price is the only game to play.

Already a giant in video hosting, Facebook have users watching an estimated 100 million of hours of video daily on their news feed.

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What we know about video as a content format, is that it provides the best opportunity to capture said attention. Facebook have gone all in on video in recent years, with investments in companies like Liverail, Facebook grew its market share in the video advertising space and has since has driven the video market to be worth north of $5bn.

After investing heavily in its video servicing capabilities, the live broadcasting feature is becoming the centre of attention. We have already seen new interactive features such as the ability to stream to specific groups and the ability to further tailor content should be a major part of Facebook’s live video strategy.

While details of how Facebook plan to fully expand their live platform have not been revealed, new developer partnerships seem unlikely given the service is still in its infancy – we expect a more concise plan to be laid out at F8.

We know that part of Facebook’s growth strategy for Live was to partner with leading media organisations and high profile athletes to encourage them to use the Live feature. It was reported that Facebook had 140 deals inked with video creators totalling a value of more than $50million.

Facebook Live - Celebrity deals

Buzzfeed and the New York Times topped the list with $3.1 & $3 million dollar deals respectively and Barcelona was the top paid sports team, who notably used Facebook Live on their way to reaching the 100 million Facebook fan milestone.

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Expected at this year’s F8, Facebook are set to roll out new tools that allow content creators to broadcast high quality video. We have already seen football site Goal.com produce shows for Facebook live and combine them with scheduled ad breaks. To entice media organisations to utilise the feature Facebook will need to replicate TV-Like production value. We expect such an announcement to surface at F8.

Messenger Bots: The talk of the town

Messaging and private communications will unlock new platforms for accessing all kinds of different services

Messenger continues to evolve, proudly boasting over 1bn users and as such there is serious opportunity for marketers and bot builders.

Facebook have even developed a Messenger bot specifically for the conference that will go live on the morning of the 18th. Facebook say they have developed the bot to help attendees at the conference connect and will provide notifications when new workshops are about to start.

Facebook Bot Messenger - F8 2017

Perhaps the biggest news will be the launch of group chat bots, these group bots can keep users informed about real-time news such as a sports game’s progress, e-commerce deliveries and more, according to three sources familiar with the development of the feature.

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Group bots are designed to bring curated news to a thread with the user. Facebook are expected to announce exactly how users will find and add bots to conversations – WePlay predict a ‘Bot Discovery’ tab tailored to your likes and interests will be part of the functionality.

The rise of bots links to our earlier point about brands wanting to connect with users on a one-to-one basis. Facebook recognise that bridging the gap between company and consumer is a focal point of a majority of marketing strategies. Sports brands and rights holders are no different, fans want a piece of the action and want to be in control of when and how they receive content.

The sign of good service is retention and thus if Facebook can ensure that bots deliver on their promise then expect Messenger and Bots to become a staple in every brand marketers strategy moving forward.

Hidden Treasures: An unveiling of Facebook’s secret group

Facebook’s version of Area 51; Building 8 (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it?) is the home of new hardware products designed to help connect the world. Business Insider reported that inside Building 8, they are working on at least four unannounced consumer hardware products which could be unveiled this week at F8.

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, Building 8's Regina Dugan, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer, Building 8’s Regina Dugan, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg

The head of Building 8 Regina Dugan, recently drew speculation that the company was working on an AR device. It was accompanied with a powerful stat that 93% of our face-to-face time with our parents is done by the time we graduate from school, leading many to believe Facebook are working on an AR product which could allow users to connect regardless of proximity.

VR: Not mass-market ready but expect further developments

Last year, Facebook unveiled the HD 360 camera, making it clear that it wanted to be the authority in the virtual reality agenda. VR has not penetrated at the mass market level and we’re still some way off seeing VR headsets in everyone’s homes, however, with developments from Facebook and their Oculus Rift product we expect to hear Facebook share insights and a range of new features from Oculus Rooms.