At its annual developer conference last week, Facebook made several announcements that are likely to have a major impact on the mobile app world. As one of the world’s largest online properties, Facebook’s policies and practices – when it comes to digital marketing – tend to govern popular trends in the industry.
The F8 conference marked what could become the next trend in digital advertising: online portals becoming complete, self-sustaining marketing ecosystems through key technology acquisitions and integrations, advanced analytics, and a steady stream of rich, constantly updating audience data from its own platform.
For Facebook, with the sizeable amount of data now available, it seems a natural evolution for the company to open its platform to developers and establish its own closed circuit, thereby eliminating third-party middlemen and creating multiple new data and revenue streams.
The acquisition of video ad exchange LiveRail last year gave Facebook a larger piece of the video advertising market, and Facebook’s first-party data became the foundation of that platform. Facebook has now added a mobile element to the exchange, allowing publishers to utilize it to sell video and display ads across mobile devices.
As part of its evolution, Facebook announced plans to shift its Messenger app into a platform through which apps can be launched and downloaded. This move opens up the Facebook platform to outside developers, who can add new functionalities to the platform through an open SDK. Essentially, Messenger offers an app store within its platform that allows users to purchase and download apps, as well as make other in-app purchases, all without leaving the Messenger environment.
Giving developers the ability to reach Facebook’s massive audience is a promising prospect for publishers looking for new ways to monetize their apps in a crowded marketplace. Through these apps, businesses can find new, more organic ways to share content and communicate directly with customers. Users can shop, make purchases, track orders, and interact with representatives, all within the Messenger platform.
Of course, this change also allows Facebook to leverage the insights that come from app purchase and use patterns, and is another step toward turning the social media site into a fully integrated online environment, tailored to users according to their own data. Facebook’s marketing partners also gain the ability to use the same data to directly engage with users in a relevant, non-intrusive manner.
It would not be surprising to see other major portals follow this example in the near future, as the implications for mobile marketers and users will be considerable.
Perhaps the most significant takeaway from the conference and Facebook’s several announcements was how Facebook will be improving ad targeting – by tapping its own wells of anonymized user data to deliver and act upon deeper first-party insight.
Facebook has been able to apply analytics to its own users, but now, developers using the Facebook platform can leverage enhanced analytics to gain insight into the users of their own apps. The integration of the Facebook platform across devices enables them to layer mobile and social data atop user profiles based on demographic, behavioral, and contextual data for a richer view of their target audiences.
The combination of programmatic and analytics gives app developers access to user and performance data on a scale previously unavailable, data that can then be used to better market their apps. The benefit of that depth of user insight being passed onto other developers is an important wind change in the industry, especially as the mobile app world continues to rapidly grow and evolve.
Hagai Tal is CEO of Taptica