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A Facebook F8 Re/cap: A Mobile Ad Exchange and a New Spin on Messenger

Facebook has all your data, and now it's putting it to good use.


For the second straight year, Facebook used its annual developer event to launch a new ad offering. It also teased out its expanded plans for Messenger, its standalone messaging app that promises to offer much more than simple text conversations in the very near future.

The conference itself expanded to two days this year for the first time, but Wednesday featured all the major news and updates. Here’s what you need to know from the first day:

A Mobile Ad Exchange

Facebook put Google’s Double Click and Twitter’s MoPub on alert Wednesday with the introduction of its own mobile ad exchange.

The company already offered a video ad exchange through its LiveRail product, which helps publishers fill vacant ad space by allowing advertisers to bid on that space in real time. Now, LiveRail can fill display ad space on mobile as well, not just video.

But the really significant part of this announcement is that Facebook will now allow advertisers to tap into its wealth of anonymized user data to better target those ads. Previously, LiveRail was simply using Web cookies to determine what ad to share with a given user. It will now layer on Facebook data, which should make the ads more relevant and, ultimately, more valuable. That data is also something Google and Twitter don’t have, setting Facebook’s exchange apart.

A Platform for Messenger

Facebook wants to add more features into Messenger, and it’s asking third-party developers to help build them.

The company’s new Messenger Platform allows developers outside of Facebook to build their products right into the app.

For example, retailers can now pair consumer accounts from their own website with Messenger accounts, enabling those consumers to chat with that retailer and see shipping details, or even change an order.

This requires consumer opt-in, of course, but you can see the potential. If you can receive shipping updates on Messenger, why not travel updates? Or banking updates? Or … you get the idea.

Data About Your App. Lots of Data.

Facebook launched a tool called Analytics for Apps, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

The tool allows developers to see almost all the activity within their app. In addition, if users happened to have signed up with their Facebook login, the app developer will see the user’s demographic data, too. That’s important, since Facebook data may very well become the currency of the Internet. For example, a developer could see if people are using his app more on desktop versus mobile, or if women are browsing longer than men.

The key here is that all of this tracking is cross-device, which means it can determine how people are using the product on different devices. This data matters to Facebook because the more educated developers are about their users and their tendencies, the more successful the developer will be in targeting potential new users.

One example: If a developer knows women in Texas use the app most frequently, it may pay Facebook for an app-install ad that will appear specifically for that demographic.

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