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F8: Facebook Takes Aim at Google

Tim Maytom

F8_2015Six months ago, Mark Zuckerberg claimed that within five years, Facebook would be predominantly video. The social network took a major leap towards that prediction today at its annual developer conference, f8, announcing an embeddable video player that places the company in direct competition with Google's YouTube.

The keynote speech by Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives saw a number of new features announced, many of which were leaked earlier in the day when a push notification was sent out early.

The new video player, not currently given a standalone name, will enable users to embed it on other sites in a similar fashion to how YouTube functions today. Video has been an increasingly important part of Facebook's proposition, both for consumers and businesses, and the introduction of its own shareable player reaffirms that commitment.

Messenger Grows Up

Also announced (and rumoured ahead of time) was the fact that Facebook's Messenger service would be opened up to third party development, with companies able to develop apps that would function within the Messenger platform.

40 initial apps were announced, with partners including ESPN (which will enable you to place sports clips into messages), Everlane (allowing you to get shipping notifications through Messenger) and a range of apps that will let users add video, GIFs and audio to messages, as well as changing fonts and making animated messages.

mark zuckerberg at f8 2015LiveRail Pushes in on DoubleClick

Facebook's mobile advertising product, LiveRail, is set to receive an update, enabling publishers to deliver display and native ads in their apps using the system harnessing Facebook audience data. In addition, the system is improving its targeting to ensure the right messages find the right users.

These changes to the supply-side of the Facebook ad business will further threaten Google's DoubleClick platform, which Facebook has been chasing for first place in terms of global digital ad revenue.

Also among the features announced during the keynote was the introduction of analytics for Facebook-powered apps, providing developers with audience engagement and conversion rates, further bolstering the social networks value to marketers.

Finally, Facebook previewed an immersive, virtual reality style 360-degree video that will be able to be integrated into the News Feed, and expanded its Parse programming language to work with IoT devices and wearables.