Cheatsheet: What advertisers need to know from Facebook’s F8 2019

Privacy hasn’t really been a big part of Facebook’s past: After all, it’s facing a $3 billion-plus fine from the FTC. But Facebook’s future is privacy, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the company’s annual developers conference F8 in San Jose on April 30.

With that proclamation, Zuckerberg along with his new management team announced dozens of updates across Facebook’s family of apps. Here’s what advertisers need to know.

The highlights:

  • Facebook has a new design which emphasizes community, also known as Facebook Groups
  • Instagram Shopping is expanding to Explore and to creators
  • Instagram is testing hiding likes from public view
  • Messenger has a new desktop app and new lead gen ads
  • WhatsApp is adding product catalogs
  • Facebook’s AR platform Spark is opening up to more creators

Facebook redesign
Facebook is removing the blue bar from the top of Facebook on desktop and on mobile and swapping it for white.

“The app isn’t even blue anymore,” Zuckerberg said, snickering to himself, during his keynote.

But while that update may sound quite simple, Zuckerberg said the redesign is “the biggest change to the Facebook app and website that we made in the last five years.”

During a question-and-answer session with attendees of a live F8 broadcast from Facebook’s New York office, Facebook lead Fidji Simo said, “We really wanted to modernize the UI, that was true on mobile and particularly true on web, where we hadn’t done a redesign in years. The other aspect is putting communities at the center of the experience. Mobile is so much cleaner, fresher.”

But News Feed isn’t going away. In fact, the News Feed experience “is staying similar to what it is today,” Simo said.

Facebook’s redesigned app

The main change is a new post composer. Facebook’s composer will suggest users to not only share to their profile, which would then be available to their connections in News Feed, but also to share to their public or private groups.

Despite Facebook’s desire to boost more participation in Groups by incorporating them more into News Feed, Facebook has yet to bring advertising formally to Groups. The company tested ads in Groups back in October 2016 but never fully rolled out the ad product.

Facebook app’s new post composer

Simo said that could change in the future, but for now, they’re focused on the consumer experience.

“If you look historically we’re really focused on creating great consumer products. We’re thinking more about [advertising] after whether it’s Facebook Watch, Marketplace, Dating. We know that given the ad systems we have we can easily monetize these services,” Simo said.

More shopping on Instagram
Instagram’s recently released in-app shopping feature, where app users can shop and check out all within the Instagram app, is expanding. Instagram users can now discover shoppable posts in Instagram’s Explore page, where 20% of time spent on Instagram is spent, according to Facebook’s October earnings call.

Instagram users also can more easily buy products directly from creators. A new program allows creators to include shoppable tags in their posts, rather than using a workaround service like LikeToKnowIt or sharing links in their bios. The program is launching with 55 creators, including celebrities Gigi Hadid and Kylie Jenner and publishers Refinery29 and Vogue, and about two dozen brands. This update opens up a new revenue stream for Instagram since it will be taking an undisclosed percentage of every transaction.

Instagram is trying to be healthier
Instagram is rethinking the fundamental of the app, said Instagram lead Adam Mosseri. That new focus includes a test removing likes from photos and view counts from videos. These engagement metrics will only be accessible to the account owner — if they tap through — and not to followers. The test is rolling out in Canada later this week.

“We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they are getting … We want Instagram feeling [like] a place where you’re safe and supported,” Mosseri said.

Instagram also is rolling out a redesigned camera called Create Mode, which makes it easier for users to post content that isn’t a photo or a video. The camera will suggest effects, interactive stickers and offer a new donation sticker for fundraising within Instagram Stories.

Messenger is coming to desktop and adding lead gen ads
Facebook is positioning Messenger more as a place to connect daily with friends and family. Messenger’s new tagline is a “modern-day social network built around Messaging,” a slide showed during F8.

“Now more than ever we’re working on building new experiences that improve people’s lives,” said Asha Sharma, director of Messenger consumer product.

Messenger also is undergoing a redesign, which will highlight friend’s Stories and introduce a new status feature. Facebook users will soon more easily be able to tap on a video within Facebook and share it to Messenger so Messenger users can watch together.

Messenger also will have a desktop app for Windows and MacOS.

For advertisers, Facebook is introducing lead gen ads for Messenger within Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook’s customer acquisition ads with Messenger

WhatsApp wants to be business owners’ websites 
WhatsApp is continuing to be a testbed for Facebook’s push into payments.

“In some countries, more people have a WhatsApp account than a bank account. We all know sending money is harder than it should be. What if we could make sending money as simple as sending a message. At scale, it means more people have economic power,” said Ami Vora, vp of product management at WhatsApp.

WhatsApp will introduce product catalogs so that business owners, who use the WhatsApp API or WhatsApp Business app, can show their products to potential customers. Vora shared the example of a baker sharing her different types of cupcakes.

Facebook’s AR is growing 
Facebook has more than 2.7 billion people across its family of apps, according to its earnings report earlier this month, and more than 1 billion of them are using AR experiences. Facebook’s AR may not be as central to the app as it is on Snapchat, but it’s available on Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Portal. That should grow since Facebook is expanding its developer platform Spark AR to both Windows and Mac (Prior, Spark AR was only available on Mac).

Spark AR developers also will be able to share to Instagram this summer, which could make the way for more branded AR experiences on Instagram in the future, a place where Snapchat does have an early lead, thanks to its concerted effort in wooing AR developers and drawing interest for brands.

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