Facebook VR, AR, and AI: How Media Companies, Advertisers Can Monetize

Yesterday, Facebook kicked off its annual F8 developer conference. We saw recently launched offerings like AI chatbots get important enhancements while new initiatives like Camera Effects and Spaces debuted to offer perhaps the best view we’ve had yet of the company’s future ambitions. The interesting and new ways users will ultimately engage and connect on Facebook could lead to significant new opportunities for media companies and advertisers on the platform. While what Facebook showed was promising in terms of new user experiences, we are most eager to see what the company has planned in the way of tools that can be leveraged to help media companies and advertisers monetize and drive brand engagement.

As Facebook seeks to court media companies and advertisers, it has introduced innovative platform capabilities that improve storytelling and monetization of key services like News Feed and video. These are important areas for the company to continue innovating within, and pressure from competitors like Snapchat and undeniable trends in AR, VR and AI demand that the company also enter these spaces in a big way. It’s not only critical to maintain and grow user engagement, but to also give brands and content owners greater flexibility in how they interact with Facebook’s vast global user base.

F8 Day One brought us AI chatbots updates, AR Studio, and Spaces for VR-based hangouts. There is a key theme here: Facebook recognizes the importance of blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds. As it gets better at doing this, it can significantly expand opportunities for media companies and advertisers on the platform.

Across all of these new offerings, Facebook is showing off early capabilities that aim to get users engaged and using the new features. The company is debuting impressive early functionality, even if it is somewhat limited for now (e.g., Spaces must be launched within Oculus Rift). Facebook has made clear that these are still early days and we’re only seeing the very beginning of what will be possible.

Monetization Growth for Media Companies And Advertisers

We saw Facebook’s early strategy for getting users to engage with its new capabilities, and are most eager to hear more about accompanying tools that will help media companies and advertisers monetize them. These companies will want to create rich experiences that users can engage deeply with – more than they’d ever be able to in a News Feed post or a video. To enable this, Facebook will need to offer the following:

1. Cost-effective custom content production capabilities that are attractive in terms of ROI and creative development;
2. Ability to do creative testing and optimization;
3. Tools for deep measurement of how users are engaging, driving understanding of where and when customers are using the platforms, elements they are engaging with in Spaces, AR and AI bots, and actions they take after these experiences, on Facebook and on media company and advertisers’ properties; for example, how consumers interact with a brand’s products in the AR-augmented physical world and conversion to purchase either in physical stores or on devices; and
4. Ability to leverage AR, Spaces and bot engagement for retargeting, to help broaden the audience for brands and bring consumers into a tailored purchase journey, much like what’s possible today with video ads on Facebook.

Whether we’re talking about Chatbots or Camera Effects, It’s possible that we will not see customers go directly from brand-based AR experiences to a purchase, but getting early insight into behavior will help speed ROI. Facebook’s AI should also play a role here, helping to surface insights and recommending campaign optimizations.

It is important to start considering now how the platforms can be used to drive monetization in scalable and practical ways. For example, we see an opportunity for agencies, advertisers and media companies where advertisers sponsor media companies’ content within Spaces or AR, with brand integration elements.

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