Every year, Facebook holds its F8 conference where it makes key announcements and launches new offerings.

This year was one of the biggest yet and dozens of announcements were made.

Here are the five most important for brands and marketers.

Messenger Platform

Reports that Facebook would be opening its Messenger app to third parties were correct. With the newly unveiled Messenger Platform, third party developers, including brands like ESPN, will be able to reach the more than 600m Facebook members who use Messenger on a daily basis. Apps can be installed from within Messenger, or provide content that's included in Messenger replies.

Facebook also announced Businesses on Messenger which is designed to facilitate better communications between individuals and businesses. "Helping people communicate more naturally with businesses is going to improve, I think, almost every person’s lives because it’s something that everyone does," Zuckerberg stated at F8.

Businesses on Messenger supports a number of use cases. Retailers, for instance, will be able to use Messenger to send order updates, including shipping confirmations, and to respond to customer questions.

Mobile Ad Exchange

Facebook acquired video ad tech startup and supply side platform LiveRail in 2014. This year at F8, Facebook announced some key additions to LiveRail.

First, it's expanding LiveRail beyond video and the platform will now be used to deliver display ads. Second, Facebook is bringing anonymized user data into the mix so that advertisers can better target their ads using its treasure trove of data.

The latter could be a key differentiator between competing offerings, namely Google's DoubleClick and Twitter's MoPub, and make the LiveRail offering very appealing to advertisers.

Analytics for Apps

A big part of Facebook's business is ads that promote mobile apps, so Facebook released Facebook Analytics for Apps, a free tool that helps companies building mobile apps better analyze who is using their apps and how.

Analytics for Apps provides for audience segmentation as well as cohort analysis, which allows companies to analyze metrics for specific groups of app users who take a particular action.

As an example, Facebook says:

You could build a cohort of everyone who installed your app in a specific country, like France, and you might discover that those people ultimately made more purchases, both on mobile and web. Using this insight, you could choose to invest more in mobile app ads in France.

The Analytics for Apps tool is cross-device and enables companies to track usage across devices, something that Facebook believes is very important. "You might discover that the majority of purchases happen on your website, but the majority of those people previously clicked ads that came from mobile, which could help you decide where to run more ads," Facebook notes.

Video Embeds

Facebook's popularity as a video sharing and video content distribution platform has been growing, and some believe that it's becoming a threat to Google's YouTube. Discussion aroundFacebook-YouTube competition will likely increase following Facebook's unveiling of a new video player that allows Facebook videos to be embedded on third party sites with a single line of code.

Previously, it was only possible to share Facebook videos within Facebook, but now that videos can be embedded on external websites, a la YouTube videos, brands may have reason to think about how they're using Facebook to distribute video content and to expand their efforts.

App Invites

In an effort to help developers of apps drive organic app installs, Facebook has introduced App Invites, functionality that allows users to send custom invites to their friends. 

Cutting through the clutter can be difficult on Facebook, so Facebook isn't displaying these invites in user News Feeds or Timelines. Instead, it decided to create a dedicated area for invites.

According to Facebook, beta partners using App Invites have seen install rates above 5%. App Invites is available to developers using version 4.0 of Facebook's iOS and Android SDKs. More information and documentation can be found here.

Patricio Robles

Published 27 March, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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