There were a few things said at Facebook’s F8 conference yesterday that will be music to the ears of many. First, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted a change from the former motto of 'move fast and break things', promising ‘not to break things anymore'. This is most likely a response to the ever-growing angst about changes to the News Feed and the drop-off in reach for posts (though they’re still tinkering with that too). This is great news for businesses trying to work out what to do next and wondering if/when Facebook will move the goal posts on them again. A period of stability would be welcome relief for marketers trying to rationalise best practise for the platform – while this was not specifically noted by Zuckerberg, hopefully this is what we can read into this implication.
Second, Facebook announced ‘Anonymous Login,’ an option that will allow users to log-in to apps without sharing their personal information. Privacy has been a major concern for Facebook users, with more and more people worried about how their information is being utilised by third party providers when they use their Facebook sign-in to log into apps. The announcement of ‘Anonymous Login’ shows the company is hearing these concerns and is trying to maintain user confidence and trust.
While still being tested with selected developers, the announcement has already been welcomed by many – Olivier Amar, the CEO of security technology company MyPermissions, said the announcement is ‘a major milestone for Facebook and for app developers in general – putting the customer experience first and putting users back in the driver’s seat’. No doubt Amar’s view will be echoed throughout the social media community, and while there are still more questions to be answered about app functionality and how the change will impact overall user experience (and how developers will respond), it’s an intelligent move by Facebook, particularly at a time when their motivations are being questioned.
The third announcement relates to the already known 'Audience Network’ mobile advertising option, which has been in testing for some time. Facebook offered more info on this option and how it will merge Facebook ads with partner networks. ‘Audience Network’ will essentially let advertisers run their Facebook ads in other applications who sign up to the extended network. This will allow businesses to utilise Facebook’s ad targeting and analytics options and provide extended access to users beyond Facebook alone.
It’s an interesting option, but one which may take some time to see significant benefit – even Facebook is keeping expectations in check in regards to the potential of this new option. It’s also another one that could see some user backlash when they start seeing even more ads in their apps and feeds, beyond what some already view as an intrusive level of ad content. In line with Zuckerberg’s statement about 'breaking things', this option is likely to be rolled out with some caution over the next 6-12 months.
Definitely some interesting notes coming out of the F8 conference, and Zuckerberg also took the opportunity to announce the company’s intention to make F8 an annual event. While none of these features are revolutionary, they’re positive steps which show that Facebook is working to alleviate user concerns whilst also seeking smarter options for advertisers. The sting of ‘reachocalypse’ is still very fresh for many, and questions about the network’s future have been rising, a growing backlash regarding the giant’s motivations and trustworthiness. The F8 announcements, in adding new features and managing expectations on advertising, are an effort to calm some of these concerns and show they're aware, whilst also highlighting their efforts to maintain the original ethos of a more connected global community.