April 7, 2014
The industry was slightly perplexed with Facebook’s unexpected purchase of virtual reality startup Oculus VR for $2 billion. It stands in stark contrast to other recent technology acquisitions, such as WhatsApp and Nest. There is no obvious marketing application, no instant access to an established user base, no hidden trove of patents. Instead, Facebook is finally using its riches to help realize Mark Zuckerberg’s idealized future in which people can “experience the impossible.” And they couldn’t have picked a better place to start.
So what are the implications of this bold purchase?
Facebook’s IPO afforded it the luxury to make bold acquisitions such as this one. But its new found position as a publicly-traded technology titan also brought its future under scrutiny. Facebook has acted with its purchase of WhatsApp and its failed bid for Snapchat. Those acquisitions collected headlines, but arguably lacked vision, and for some exposed some scrambling to quell concerns over its ability to maintain relevance within a fickle teenage demographic. The purchase of Oculus foreshadows a different Facebook, a more confident Facebook, one prepared to boldly move beyond its roots to deliver on Zuckerberg’s vision.
It isn’t clear where Facebook will go first with Oculus. Initial predictions range from monetized gaming to virtual reality “hangouts,” but both would require Facebook to develop well outside of its comfort zone. Indeed, it is folly to predict the future of Oculus, because its future does not lie in the hands of Facebook. Rather, it lies with a community of tens of thousands of developers and hardware startups who see its potential as a medium for their visions. Already, those visions are spectacular, e.g., simulated skydiving, tactile response and treadmills that let you physically walk in virtual worlds. Facebook are now a key part of this innovative sandbox.
In one sense, the closest parallel to the Oculus acquisition may not be a hardware startup like Nest, but instead an open community such as YouTube. In much the same way that Google receives credit for the innovation and content development which happens on YouTube, Facebook can grow its brand simply by fostering an environment that is conducive to innovation. As this community grows, Facebook gains access to more content, more data and ultimately more advertising revenue.
For advertisers, the Oculus ecosystem is a new frontier, and Facebook’s acquisition heralds the start of a gold rush. The easy thing to do is to sit back and wait until Facebook identifies the quickest paths to monetization. But realistically, traditional advertising opportunities on Oculus are years away. Forward-thinking companies should become the innovators, not wait for them. The possibilities for proprietary development are enormous: virtual showrooms, remote tours, customizable environments. Virtual reality is the most immersive experience available to developers today, and thanks to the vision of Oculus and the deep pockets of Facebook, consumers are finally ready to experience the impossible.
October 22, 2013
Facebook is expanding its mobile advertising offering with a highly specific mobile app format.
It has been introduced to bolster the social network’s fast-growing mobile business and is a key revenue focus for the future. But how effective will they actually be? And how can clients use them to drive business value?
Mobile app ads, which allow companies to promote content within their mobile apps, will encourage users to remain active within the apps beyond the install.
The ad format will show in a user’s news feed and is a development on the app install ad, but instead of directing the user to the relevant app store, (to download), the new format will deep link to content within the app itself.
Previously, we would focus on one metric – cost per install. However, this only shows intent to download. And whilst the number of installs is vital for user acquisition in the infancy of a campaign the challenge then shifts on getting installed users to return and remain active within the app.
If a user has already downloaded the app then they are pre-qualified customers for the brand and more likely to be receptive to further advertising. From the user’s perspective the advertising is relevant to them as they have already signalled that they are interested from installing the app.
For clients, using Facebook’s mobile app ads increases the odds of a conversion and gives them the ability to directly link media spend on the platform to ROI – therefore driving business value.
Facebook’s new mobile app ads demonstrate the shift towards our clients wanting to track and attribute in-app purchases and user engagement metrics beyond the initial installation and these ‘mobile app ads’ help direct the user to the most relevant location within the app once installed.
This is vital to remove an extra stage in the consumer journey (which is often one of the main barriers for continued engagement with mobile and tablet apps) as well as allowing clients to flag a specific promotion or new update to the user.
For example, if a retail client combines its list of existing app downloaders from its own CRM database with Facebook’s custom audiences they can retarget lapsed customers by enticing them with a flash sale or the launch of a new product or range using the call to action, ‘shop now’.
Re-targeting users is nothing new in advertising and it is surprising that it has taken Facebook this long to integrate such a feature to help optimise the funnel beyond the install.
Currently there are limited calls to actions (7 in total) such as ‘book now’ or ‘watch video’, but hopefully more will be added in the future giving our clients more flexibility to entice their users back to their mobile apps.
This blog was first publsihed on the wallblog: http://wallblog.co.uk/2013/10/21/redefining-facebook-how-brands-should-use-facebook-ad-apps/#ixzz2iSMQVBA1