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Facebook’s Next Big Bet Is Making Your Phone’s Camera Smarter

Facebook has gotten us all to share text posts and photos, and is seeing a lot of use of video. Now, it wants to turn is all into live streamers, and use advanced technology to aid our use of our phone cameras: That’s the gist of an outlook that Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox gave at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Tuesday.

Cox said that Facebook has already seen 400 percent growth in live streaming since opening it up to all of its users in May. Not all of that is coming from users watching broadcasts of major media brands, he explained, adding that the number of small broadcasters — teenagers that stream to just a dozen of their friends — was a surprise even to Facebook itself.

Key to Facebook Live’s future growth will be technology that adds to the live broadcast experience, said Cox. He showed off one example that Facebook is currently experimenting with in the lab: An app that automatically takes the camera input and in real-time renders it in the style of famous painters like van Gogh using neural networks.

The bigger idea behind experiments like this is to turn the camera into an advanced tool that unlocks live streaming and augmented reality experiences, said Cox. “This is going to help take the technology to the next level.”

Cox was joined on stage by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who argued that Live is an evolution of free expression on Facebook, complete with the challenges that come with it. The company has been in hot waters in the past for overzealous removal of content, and suggested last week that it was ready to relax some of its guidelines for acceptable content.

“Facebook is a platform for all ideas,” Sandberg said. “We also want to be a really safe community. Those two things can come into conflict.”

As Facebook is making decision what content to keep on its platform and what to ban, it often finds itself confronted with criticism that it is exercising editorial control — a charge that Sandberg and Cox denied. “A media company is about the story that it tells,” said Cox. “A technology company is about the tools that it builds.”

Source: Variety, article by Janko Roettgers (http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/facebook-chris-cox-sheryl-sandberg-live-1201900331/)

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Facebook Workplace is the new social network for your OFFICE

FORGET LinkedIn, Facebook Workplace, offering collaboration tools, worldwide communication and more, could be the new social media network for your place of work.

The age of sneakily using Facebook whilst at work could finally be at an end thanks to the launch of a new social media site from the company.

Facebook Workplace looks to allow companies to set up their own private social networks, where employees can communicate, share knowledge and stay in touch, even at multinational businesses with offices all around the world.

Looking to target workers who don’t spend all day at their desk, Workplace is a mobile-focused service that will let employees and managers alike stay in contact wherever they are.

Formerly known as Facebook at Work, Workplace is Facebook biggest launch for some time, and marks a move towards the corporate scene for the first time.

Facebook says that more than a thousand organisations around the world are already using Workplace, which has been in beta testing for over two years, including many UK businesses.

This includes international companies such as Danone, Oxfam and Starbucks, as well as major domestic organisations such as India’s Yes Bank and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore.

Companies will need to pay a fee to use Workplace, which will be based on a monthly cost per active user.

The more users a company has, the less they will pay – with initial rates starting at $3 for the first 1,000 monthly users, $2 for up to 10,000 users and $1 for any higher than that.

Customers can also add in a number of additional services to their Workplace subscription, including multi-company Groups (which let employees from several different organisations work together without leaking valuable corporate information), and video and group audio calling in Work Chat.

However more traditional Facebook services can also be included, such as Facebook Live, Reactions, Trending posts and auto-translate.

Facebook says that utilising its various programs could allow workers to chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with a CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.

Facebook wrote in a blog post, “The new global and mobile workplace isn’t about closed-door meetings or keeping people separated by title, department or geography.”

“Organisations are stronger and more productive when everyone comes together.”

Source: Express, article by Michael Moore (http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/science-technology/719665/facebook-workplace-new-social-network-office)

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Snapchat Needs to Go Public Before Instagram Stories Kills It

With Snapchat leaking that the company is planning a quick initial public offering (IPO) at a $25 billion valuation, the real motivation for speeding up the deal may be the ability of Instagram Stories to grow to from scratch to 60 percent of Snapchat’s user base in just 10 weeks.

L&F Capital Management suggests that Snapchat’s current advantages are easily replicated, and that “Instagram will ultimately consolidate the teen user base.”

They see a Snapchat IPO as another one-trick-pony like GoPro, Fitbit and Shake Shack. All three had hot IPO’s and a big jump in price in the first few days of trading. But within a year, competition swooped in and the companies’ stock prices crumbled.

A recent Wishbone survey targeting 35,000 Snapchat users between the ages of 12 and 25 found the company’s primary competitive advantage is its filters. Geo filters and puppy dog faces are what the youth demographic currently wants for viral “fun.” But the survey also revealed that if Facebook had Snapchat-type filters, it would take market share from Snapchat’s 12 to 25-age demographic.

Facebook Instagram Stories launched on August 2, and already has 100 million daily active viewers, compared to Snapchat’s 150 million users after almost five years. A big part of Instagram Stories’ rapid adoption has probably been due to “immersion” within the 500 million users in Instagram’s ecosystem.

L&F is confident that Facebook can continue to grow its earnings by 30 percent compounded, because the falling “Cost per Engagement” for the Instagram and Facebook platform is a magnet for advertiser dollars and an impediment for other social media platforms.

Snapchat is the primary target in the Facebook’s app consolidation plans. By knocking off Snapchat’s core features, Facebook will strengthen its user base and take share in the youth demographic, where advertisers desperately want to increase engagement.

Snapchat currently has an advantage when it comes to private direct messaging, but that feature is easily imitated. Facebook is already testing a similar tool with Messenger. By enabling short-lived direct messaging text, photos and videos, Messenger would seem to be a huge threat to Snapchat’s value proposition to users.

Instagram Stories already addresses the public messaging components, and when combined with Facebook Messenger features, it could also offer the kid-targeted private component.

L&F believes that with all the hype around Snapchat, the stock price will undoubtedly jump after the IPO. But it also expects Snapchat to be “butchered” as reality sinks in that the company does not have “protectable” value.

Source: Bretbart, article by Chriss W. Street (http://www.breitbart.com/california/2016/10/09/snapchat-needs-go-public-instagram-stories-kills/)

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Most US Young Adults Watch Mobile Video on Facebook

Teens aren’t the only ones turning to YouTube to consume video content, young adults ages 18 to 20 are as well. According to June 2016 research, more than half of US young adults watch mobile video on the video-sharing site—and just as many view mobile video content on Facebook.

Social Media Platforms Used by US Young Adult* Mobile Video Viewers to View Mobile Video Content, June 2016 (% of respondents)

Native advertising software provider Sharethrough polled 300 US internet users ages 18 to 20, who were asked questions after being shown an autoplay in-feed native video ad.

Though a large share of respondents said they watched mobile video on Facebook and YouTube, nearly as many (50%) watched mobile video on Snapchat daily, and nearly half (42%) said they viewed mobile video content on Instagram every day. Twitter trailed behind with just 24% of young adults watching mobile video on that social platform each day.

Daily Time Spent Viewing Video Among Mobile Users* Worldwide, by Device/Channel, July 2015 (minutes and % of total)

Video habits are steadily moving to mobile. A survey from Millward Brown revealed that though time spent watching video on TV is still greater than on other devices, video habits are shifting, thanks in part to the proliferation of mobile devices entering the market, as well as growth of multiscreen usage.

According to the study, half of all video viewing happens on TV sets—split between live TV and on-demand TV. The other half comprises mainly mobile devices, which includes smartphones and tablets. Smartphones take the largest digital share, encompassing 22% of total daily time spent viewing video.

Source: eMarketer (https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Most-US-Young-Adults-Watch-Mobile-Video-on-Facebook-YouTube-Daily/1014553#sthash.wg5EmPZF.dpuf)

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How marketers are distributing 360-degree videos beyond YouTube and Facebook

When you read The New York Times’ technology section today, you will see an ad from Google at the top of the page featuring a 360-degree video clip on the left and a still image with a “Come Explore” button on the right. Clicking on the button, you will be directed to an in-browser 360-degree series titled “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.”

There, you can watch a glacier recede at Kenai Fjords in Alaska, fly over an active volcano in Hawaii or ride horseback through the Bryce Canyon in Utah.

This is one of the latest examples on how marketers and advertisers are tackling the distribution issue in virtual reality: pointing people to a 360-degree video experience with a teaser clip or display ad on a big publisher. Viewers don’t have to buy a headset, download a separate VR app or go to YouTube.

Jack-In-The-Box, for example, promoted its Brewhouse Bacon Burger last month with a contextual ad on Twitch linking viewers back to a 360-degree video around its juicy burger. Sarah Bachman, vp of mobile strategy for Horizon Media, the agency behind Jack-In-The-Box, declined to disclose how her team measures the campaign as she is not authorized by the brand.

Still, it’s unclear if serving teaser content on a major publisher can truly help brands extend the reach of their VR efforts. At the moment, there is no single scaled VR solution, so it requires a varied but deliberate distribution plan and lots of testing, said Bachman.

The prevailing approach for distributing VR content is through a mobile app like Google Cardboard or via YouTube and Facebook. The former requires downloading the app, which is an additional barrier to consumer adoption, while the latter requires embedding the content back on a website. This amounts to a broken 360-degree experience, explained Michael Rucker, co-founder and chief operating officer for VR company OmniVirt that provides the technology for the two campaigns above.

“Publishers should be able to power VR experiences right on their own media property as they have been investing in this space. But rendering a 360-degree video across all of a publisher’s different platforms is a difficult technical challenge,” he said.

Teaser content on major publishers aside, agency Arnold Worldwide has been testing out the organic reach of new distribution platforms like Littlstar (via an unpaid partnership) and Samsung VR (think of both platforms as the VR equivalent of YouTube) since this past April in its “Instant Caribbean Vacation” 360-degree video experience for Carnival Cruise Line.

“On these two platforms, we are focused on organic views only right now. That, in part, will help justify any paid media support we opt to put behind those platform placements down the road,” said Sean Will, vp and director of digital production for Arnold Worldwide. “Content-wise, I think we need to build more embedded interactions. For example, Google has created some nice experiences with its street map technology, like the VR tour of Dublin.”

Since those methods could help consumers get more familiar with 360-degree videos, brands are less hesitant to invest in VR. The distribution issue of real immersive VR experiences like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, however, still remains unsolved, according to Dave Meeker, vp of agency Isobar’s U.S. operations.

“Remember, 360 is just an entry point to VR. If a brand wants to do VR, there’s no clear path to success at the moment. The question is, do I go for scale, or do I go for big impact?” he said. “We are still at an early stage, but the potential is absolutely here. We are not limited by the technology, but we are limited by the adoption of the technology.”

Source: Digiday, article by Yuyu Chen (http://digiday.com/agencies/marketers-distributing-360-degree-videos-beyond-youtube-facebook/)

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