By Natasha Everett

This year we’ve had Facebook Attribution, story ads, the updated Instant Experience and a whole raft of other product updates. With Facebook constantly making small changes to their product portfolio, advertisers must ensure they are at the forefront of incremental innovation to deliver the best results. More importantly however, they must take every opportunity to maximise the potential of bigger impact and larger-scale product releases. So, what new formats can we expect to gain momentum in 2019?

  • Social

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Augmented Reality (AR) Ads

Since September, Facebook have been experimenting with AR camera effects and ads on a small testing group in the US[1]. We know this isn’t new stuff, Snapchat and Instagram have been using AR for over three years with their creative filters. However, with estimations suggesting that the AR advertising market will surpass $2.6 billion by 2022[2], we’re predicting a big boost in Facebook AR advertising next year.  

With a focus on e-commerce, the Facebook AR offering gives consumers the ability to try on products before purchase. Using a ‘tap to try on’ call to action, beauty shoppers can test out Sephora’s new lipsticks and luxury fashion buyers can try on those coveted Michael Kors aviators. Although AR will never be able to completely replicate in-person shopping (you can never be completely sure that a new shade of lipstick will suit your skin tone through a camera), Facebook may just be starting to bridge the gap between offline and online commerce in 2019.

Facebook AR

Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence  

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in digital media is significant, especially within paid social. No, I’m not talking about those robots at Facebook that created their own language, I’m talking about chatbots. These multi-lingual, always-on bots can provide a beneficial extension to traditional customer service offerings and take some of the pressure off front-line staff. With some estimates suggesting that by 2020 85% of our interactions with businesses will take place without humans[3], we can only predict further growth in the implementation and adoption of Facebook chatbots across 2019.

Towards the end of this year we have seen vast developments in both the capability and the adoption of Facebook chatbots. Launched in the UK in April 2018, Cleo exists as an AI powered money management tool where users interact with the Chatbot on Facebook to budget, save and track the­ir spend. Alongside Cleo, ASOS’ ‘Enki’ chatbot can suggest personalised style recommendations; the Experian chatbot can suggest travel plans and KLM can send notifications if flights are delayed. Obviously, some sceptics have voiced privacy concerns about allowing bots access to our personal data (understandable, given Facebook’s many privacy scandals). However, marketers assure users their data is protected through high level encryption and personal information is never stored on their servers.[4]­­

Chatbots

One to Watch: Voice Commerce 

Although voice commerce is still very much up in the air, there’s definitely potential for developments in this segment across 2019. This year we saw some scary voice innovations for Amazon, with the commerce giant filing for a patent to market cold products to users who sneeze near their Alexa[5]. In the social world Facebook launched their Portal product in October, a set of twin tablets designed to facilitate easier video calls with friends and family. The tablets also come with Alexa and popular apps such as Spotify built in. 

It’s hard to predict whether the Portal will take off, particularly given the need for Facebook to have watertight security at present. If it did, marketers could gain a new revenue stream and the capability to reach users in their own homes.  We can’t see this being a huge deal in paid social next year, but it’s definitely one to watch. 

Facebook Portal

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