I look forward to Facebook’s F8 developer conference each year. It’s a great opportunity to see how Facebook is prioritizing and adjusting their 10 year road map based on shifting consumer behavior and new advancements in technology.
What was fascinating about this years conference is the rate they are accelerating the convergence of technologies that connect us, immerse us into new virtual worlds and advancing innovation well beyond what we would expect from a company that identifies itself as social first.
Facebook wants to redefine how we think about reality and the not too distant future when all reality is augmented and virtual. The following provides analysis across the consumer centric filters of connection, cognition and immersion.
Connection – Trends that reimagine how we connect, enable and empower consumers
Cognition – Trends where machine based intelligence will disrupt and redefine data assets and how we work
Immersion – Trends that align technology and presence to evoke emotion, entertain and power commerce
The recap dives into how the camera becomes a new point of connection and distribution along with the potential rise of effect based marketing, the role of cognitive systems to enhance everything from newsfeed, messenger and augmented reality to the launch of social first virtual reality products and the near future of brain controlled interfaces.
FACEBOOK F8 2017
I look forward to Facebook’s F8 developer conference each year. It’s a great
opportunity to see how Facebook is prioritizing and adjusting their 10 year road map
based on shifting consumer behavior and new advancements in technology.
What was fascinating about this years conference is the rate they are accelerating the
convergence of technologies that connect us, immerse us into new virtual worlds and
advancing innovation well beyond what we would expect from a company that identifies
itself as social first.
Facebook wants to redefine how we think about reality and the not too distant future
when all reality is augmented and virtual. The following provides analysis across the
consumer centric filters of connection, cognition and immersion.
• Connection – Trends that reimagine how we connect, enable and empower
• Cognition – Trends where machine based intelligence will disrupt and redefine data
assets and how we work
• Immersion – Trends that align technology and presence to evoke emotion, entertain
and power commerce
The recap dives into how the camera becomes a new point of connection and
distribution along with the potential rise of effect based marketing, the role of cognitive
systems to enhance everything from newsfeed, messenger and augmented reality to
the launch of social first virtual reality products and the near future of brain controlled
Chief Digital Officer, Agency
EVOLUTION OF M
CAMERA EFFECTS PLATFORM
Facebook was founded on the principle of connecting people. Over the
years the evolution of their products has ebbed and ﬂowed between
sharing individual experiences with friends and family, to playing
engaging games, to new ways to directly connect via messenger.
The election in 2016 highlighted how a focus on friends and families
creates echo-chambers of interests and viewpoints and the rise of fake
news created new problems with the current structure.
Now Facebook is not only focused on connecting friends and family
members of the 1.86 billion people on their platform, they are also
focused on building community.
Implications: This shift will have an impact on brand marketers, small
businesses and enterprise organizations as Facebook will shift from
being the “white page” of friends (and friends of friends) to the “yellow
pages”, enhancing the 60 million businesses that currently leverage
This means new tools across the product set will further create reach
and scale across platforms .
Facebook understands that in order to evolve beyond echo chambers and expand
new points of connection that creating new tools to expand networks is key.
Content < Effects
Facebook understands that in order to truly create scale the key is to
empower consumers, developers and other 3rd parties to create
experiences on their behalf. Consumer empowerment is powerful and
will accelerate adoption and ultimately inﬂuence consumer behavior
towards a new normal.
The democratization of augmented reality (AR) powered by advancing
artiﬁcial intelligence (AI), has the potential to redeﬁne advertisers
approaches to content marketing, making it less about content and
more about enabling experiences through compelling and contextually
Implications: Snapchat paved the way for light AR experiences and
Pokemon Go appended location. With the new Frames & AR studios
we get the ﬁrst creative palettes to capitalize on building experiences
that enhance not only content but the physical world.
Facebook is laser focused on creating compelling, real world
experiences that will redeﬁne reality and the role data plays to map to
contextual effects will need to be considered.
One of the biggest announcements of the conference was the Camera as Facebook’s
Augmented Reality Platform.
Frames & AR Studios
Two sets of tools comprise the new Camera Effects Platform. The
Frames Studio allows for quick deployment and creation of effects that
can enhance an image, video or even Facebook live stream. This
platform allows artists, creators and brands to create frames that can
be targeted using Facebook targeting abilities for distribution.
The AR Studio is where it’s possible to create light weight AR effects
that can developed and enhanced with elements such as real-time
data to build highly contextual AR experiences. This is where brand
marketers have an opportunity to align data + experiences.
Implications: The ability to integrate various elements such as real
time sports or travel data as well was web and streaming content open
up new possibilities for creating real-time and highly contextual
The other point to consider is how effects are discovered and
distributed. Effects can be found in the newsfeed or directly within the
camera and they are supported by targeting and analytics. Effects
discovery is driven by algorithms on both newsfeed & camera.
The ability to integrate various forms of data, content and experiences via AR studio makes
it a compelling platform to test and experiment on how to push it’s limits.
2016 was considered the year of the bot. Primarily fueled by
Facebook’s Messenger beta, which accelerated the development of a
bot ecosystem to further enhance the Messenger experience.
In 2017, Facebook is positioning Messenger as Messenger 2.0 with a
sharp focus on integration of other services via chat extensions giving
3rd party bots the ability to seamlessly connect other services such as
Spotify or Apple Music.
Facebook is also keen on driving discovery among the 100,000 bots
now on the platform via the new discover tab.
Implications: With over 1.2 billion active users and 65 million
businesses, Messenger will continue to play a pivotal role in
Understanding the various use cases and the role Messenger plays
from raising awareness, acquiring customers, better customer service,
enabling commerce and transactions and developing experiences that
enhance the experience are key.
Messenger is incredibly viable within the Facebook ecosystem and will continue to evolve in
2017. From enhanced discoverability of bots, games and experiences, chat extensions to a
path towards predictive utility with the integration of M (virtual assistant)
Gaming Videos & eSports
Convergence of gaming & video has been a massive trend over the past
24 months. 2B people play games each month. The rise and
consumption of game streams now consists of 665M people watching
people play games.
On Facebook people watch, play & create. Facebook’s gaming video
product supports eSports (14-31% of live gaming consumption),
developers, gaming entertainers and social connection for consumers of
game stream content.
Gaming content is digitally native baked in real time interactivity. With
gaming video the audience is more than a spectator. They participate in
the experience via comments and getting involved in the gameplay.
Implications: Facebook understands the growth potential of gaming
video as well as the importance of eSports, live video of competitions and
distribution of fan created content.
They rolled out new Mid-roll ad break products that also reside within
Facebook Live as a way for brands to further connect through gaming
Facebook’s Gaming Video Product enables players to live stream directly to Facebook
without any additional hardware. They are focused on seamlessly enabling streaming and
connection while supporting with direct feedback and mid-roll ad breaks and attribution.
Instant Games & Gameroom
800M people play at least one Facebook connected game every
month. It’s a key engagement driver on the platform and Facebook is
looking to continue to expand into new platforms.
Instant games can be played in messenger and newsfeed without the
need to download. They are highly accessible HTML 5 based games.
Games can be solo, but most are highly social and multiplayer games
that are click and play experiences.
Late in 2016 Facebook launched Gameroom as a native desktop
application to support PC games with over 1000 titles over 10
categories. The key takeaway here is the upcoming release of game
feed which will surface various gaming content types.
Implications: Facebook’s research shows gaming is a fundamental
part of the Facebook experience. Brands need to consider the role that
Facebook gaming platforms can play and how they can enable gaming
experiences or create their own instant game experiences to capitalize
on this highly engaged audience.Gaming is a fundamental part of the Facebook experience. Understanding how to extend
the value of instant games, or conversation via Gameroom can lead to new types of
engagement with a highly engaged user base.
Power of Places
Over 1 billion people interact with locations monthly on Facebook and
Places Graph, essentially Facebook location data, supports Facebook,
Messenger and Instagram.
The places graph data set includes over 140 million places from
around the world. The data is sourced by users and the data set is
constantly evolving globally.
At F8 Facebook launched new SDK’s and API’s to provide access to
Facebook’s places data. You can take those location signals from a
mobile device and convert to contextual information for locations
Implications: Building location aware experiences to tailor
experiences for the end user is a key way to connect with consumers,
understand occasions and increase discoverability.
By leveraging Places graph in a native application or messenger bot
it’s possible to search for places, location tagging & discovery. It’s also
possible to determine where a person is located,
Facebook demonstrated how the new Places Graph can support easy place card creation
via the Android SDK. For the new Samsung Galaxy S8, Places Graph can integrate
locations with virtual assistants such as Samsung’s Bixby.
Bots & Workplace
Digital transformation is top of mind for most organizations. Part of the
process is solidifying internal collaboration and knowledge sharing.
From a B2B and B2E perspective Facebook’s workplace offering is
The familiarity of the platform along with a mobile ﬁrst approach based
around groups and chat makes for an easy transition for employees.
During F8 2017, Facebook showcased the ability to enhance
Workplace through 3rd party bot creation.
Implications: For B2B organizations or those undergoing B2E
transformation it’s now possible to leverage or create 3rd party
integrations into Workplace.
This can include various task related bots, or new use cases that are
relevant to the workplace similar to Taco Bell’s integration into Slack.
Employee networks represent a unique medium that is primed for
disruption and new ways of working.
Facebook Workplace is continuing to gain traction as an internal employee network solution.
Facebook has created new integration points that allow for the creation of 3rd party
Data Design + AI
Facebook is focused on leveraging multiple facets of Artiﬁcial
Intelligence to power their products and accelerate 3rd party
Computer vision, natural language processing, and algorithms drive
content discovery and their newly launched AR experiences. AI is now
a foundational element to Facebook’s go-to-market strategy.
Facebook’s ultimate goal is to develop intelligent systems that go
beyond computer vision and truly understand the world. This will then
converge with their vision of an AR driven future to create a uniﬁed
Implications: For the past ﬁfteen months my data design team has
focused on aligning emerging artiﬁcial intelligence systems and
algorithms to inform our quantitative and qualitative research that then
aligns with our world class proprietary data assets, including the
largest transactional data set in the world. Data design is incredibly
important to create the framework for personalization at scale.Facebook views Artificial Intelligence as the enabling engine of their products. From
enhancing perception in AR, understanding context through unstructured data to drive
prediction to power M, AI is pivotal to Facebook’s evolution.
Physical to Digital
One of the foundational elements of Facebook’s approach to mobile
augmented reality is the need to support a consumer’s desire to
interact and explore as well as quickly process a users environment.
Mixing digital and physical through enhancing the display of
information and digital objects combined with 3D effects, object
recognition and location will make up a bulk of the consumer facing AR
This type of precision location and mapping is driven by a combination
of AI based elements focused on enhancing computer vision and
semantic segmentation. This creates the new found depth and real-
time parsing of 3D effects that give the sense of magical movement.
Implications: Precision location and mapping both within the on
screen experience as well as the proximity of users to objects will be a
key factor in unlocking the ability to append virtual notes within a
physical environment among other use cases. It’s important to start
thinking about how brand experiences should be digitally overlaid in a
Facebook is on a path towards a true convergence of augmented reality and the physical
world. Starting with the phone, SLAM is a key component for how experiences will come to life.
Path to The Proxy Web
In the very near future we as consumers will have intelligent systems
serving the role of a proxy. Facebook is betting on M to ﬁrst serve as a
virtual assistant that will eventually become a predictive service that is
the foundation for their virtual computing future.
M will integrate into multiple facets of a user’s life from sharing location
to recommendations. In the near future M can become the connection
between a recommendation and AR object recognition action.
Implications: Understanding that most marketing of today is based on
reactive datasets, we are quickly accelerating towards intelligent
systems that are contextually aware. Data is the fuel for AI and
deﬁning a strategy that incorporates reactive data of today with
affective data of tomorrow is key.
Once contextual awareness is achieved we will see the rise of the
proxy web and then ultimately general intelligence. From a marketing
perspective, it is important to understand that strategies will need to be
deﬁned that are consumer centric as well as account for general
assistant and proxy based strategies.
Virtual assistants like M are critical components for the vision of the proxy web. Initially it will
provide smart replies, recommendations and integrate into Messenger’s chat extensions to
expand the services within a thread. In the future it will be the connection point for true AR.
Facebook views virtual reality as a method to connect physical to
digital as well as a bridge towards the north star of virtual computing
supporting a fully immersive augmented reality future.
They understand that in order to achieve this goal the products and
experiences need to become more accessible and easier to use. The
key to driving adoption at scale is to empower consumers, developers
and other 3rd parties to create experiences.
Facebook focused a lot of time during F8 to outline how they are
enabling 360 degree video creation, guidance to creators on how to
create cross platform for the new medium, new products to align social
with VR and a new browser for Oculus that will make web browsing
Implications: Facebook described virtual reality as the most powerful
social platform to date. They want to combine real and virtual worlds
through the lens of social connection to create a new reality.
Marketers need to pay attention to how consumers interact with these
experiences and the rate at which they are creating their own 360 and
Facebook is championing the adoption of 360 cameras and content as a bridge towards
empowering consumers to create immersive content.
Facebook ofﬁcially launched Spaces for Oculus. This was ﬁrst teased
at F8 last year and the experience has deﬁnitely advanced from the
grainy avatars from a year ago.
Facebook took research and learnings from Oculus Rooms via the
Samsung Gear and reﬁned an experience that lets your virtual avatar
interact with Facebook content and friends in a virtual environment.
From virtual selﬁes to watching 360 video, it’s very clear to see that
Facebook is focused on creating a new for of social interaction via a
Implications: Facebook described virtual reality as the most powerful
social platform to date. Facebook’s early research shows that there are
two primary aspects of VR experiences. People centric vs. Activity
As Facebook Spaces expands it is important to note that user
behaviors within social VR environments is similar to real world
scenarios. Users want variety of experiences. They want the ability to
shift between media experiences. From watching TV together virtually
to playing lightweight games to doing both at the same time.
I had an opportunity to create my Facebook Spaces avatar live at the conference. It was a
quick setup that linked directly to the Facebook app on my phone via a code and I was off
and creating my avatar.
Brain Controlled Interface
One of the more fascinating sessions of F8 was delivered during the
day 2 keynote. Building 8 is the new DARPA like innovation practice.
They are focused on groundbreaking work based in neuroscience.
Their goal is to create systems that will allow for brainwaves and skin
to control different types of interfaces. This can include typing up to
100 WPM, navigating a VR experience directly with thought or
converting Mandarin to English directly to your brain through signals
sent through your skin.
Implications: Many consider speech as the next operating system but
speech is a compression algorithm and compared to the rate of
processing of the human brain is equivalent to streaming 4 HD movies
simultaneously through a 1980’s dial up modem.
Directly converting thought to action will accelerate our ability to
control multiple interfaces simultaneously. Marketers need to monitor
advancements in this area as it has the potential to signiﬁcantly
accelerate the rate and amount of content and experiences that
consumers can process.
Facebook’s work on Brain Controlled and Skin Sensing interfaces demonstrate how
Facebook understands that at some point we will move beyond mobile devices and our
minds and environments will drive our interactions, tasks and how we engage.
The North Star
Facebook took the ﬁrst major step in achieving their 10 year goal of fully
immersive augmented reality by launching the camera as their ﬁrst
augmented reality platform.
On day 2 of the conference, they outlined in detail how they view
transparent glasses (deemed more socially appropriate) or some
equivalent that is paired with a general artiﬁcial intelligence system to
enhance our daily lives.
This includes improving memory, cognition, recognition and redeﬁning how
we interact with the physical world and collaborate with one another.
Implications: Although the technology does not exist yet to make this a
reality they are focused on creating and advancing the role AR will play
over the coming years.
By redeﬁning consumer behavior through AR based effects and advancing
their AI based systems they are laying the groundwork to capitalize on a
fully immersive AR driven future. As marketers we need to continue to think
about the convergence of data, cognitive systems and immersive
The Camera as the primary augmented reality platform is merely the first step towards
aligning a future of fully immersive AR that is driven by real-time AI and impacts all facets of
the world around us.