It has been a busy couple of weeks for Facebook with the social media network making big acquisitions, rolling out new features and enacting updates to its platform. There have also been rumors that Facebook is in the process of creating a new, stand-alone application.
To help you keep track of the varied developments, read our summary below of all Facebook changes and new functions.
Atlas Platform Relaunch
On Monday, September 29, 2014, Atlas, an ad-serving platform acquired by Facebook, was relaunched to offer marketers more targeting capabilities across non-Facebook web properties and devices. Atlas claims that, in addition to providing intricate data on how many people have seen, interacted with, and/or acted upon an advertisement on Facebook and third-party websites, it will be able to note how many individuals actually purchased a product after viewing an ad. In doing so, Atlas claims to be able to correlate online ads to offline purchases, providing valuable ROI for marketers.
In relaunching the Atlas product, which Facebook acquired for an estimated $100 million from Microsoft in 2013, Facebook is aiming to improve its chances of competing with Google, the leader of online advertising with a 32 percent online ad market share.
A deal that was in the making for a long time was finally closed on Monday, Oct. 6, when Facebook dished out $19 billion for the acquisition of the world’s largest private messaging platform, WhatsApp. Including stocks issued to WhatsApp founders and employees, the purchase was worth a total in the range of $23 billion.
Considering the hefty price tag, Facebook’s plans for the messaging service remain unclear and Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, reportedly admitted to having no actionable plans to monetize WhatsApp in the near future. Some industry experts speculate that Facebook is going to leverage WhatsApp’s popularity in Europe, South America and Asia to assist in developing a worldwide money transfer service, a product for which Facebook has a well-known interest.
Audience Network Open to All
The Audience Network, Facebook’s mobile ad network that was previously exclusive to a select few advertisers since April of this year, was availed to all Facebook marketers on Tuesday, Oct. 7.
The network consists of mobile applications that have chosen to monetize their services by allowing the display of Facebook ads. Within the same Facebook ad platform used to create Facebook ads, advertisers now have the option of targeting their ads for non-Facebook apps that are a part of the Audience Network, bringing significant reach and engagement to their campaigns.
Local Awareness Ads
The same day that it availed the Audience Network to all, Facebook announced the launch of a new ad format: Local Awareness Ads.
Intended to help businesses reach a local audience, Local Awareness Ads allow advertisers to target individuals who are located within a specified radius surrounding a business location. How does this happen? Facebook utilizes users’ GPS locations, people that have this feature enabled within their Facebook settings, and accounts for their proximity to the advertiser’s physical business location. If the Facebook users are within the specified distance from the business, they are qualified to being shown the ad.
To complement this new format, Facebook also released a new call to action button that will display at the bottom of the Local Awareness ad. The button will read “Get Directions” and will display directions to the advertiser’s business from the Facebook user’s current location.
New Photo Layout
On Thursday, October 9, Facebook began the rollout of a new layout for the Photos section on its Android and iOS mobile apps. The new layout brings attention to images that receive the most likes by displaying them larger than other photos in the album. Likewise, photo album thumbnails will now be much larger than they were with the preceding layout.
Additionally, a new Uploads tab has been added to the top of the Photos section, and it will display all photos in chronological order. This means that Facebook users will no longer need to search for a particular photo within albums. Instead, they will simply scroll down in the Uploads tab, to the time period of when a photo was taken, and should be able to easily locate that image.
Anonymous Application Development
What would be a busy couple of weeks without some gossip?
Though nothing has been confirmed by Facebook, sources have reported that Facebook is in the process of developing a stand-alone application, apart from Facebook, that will allow users to have conversations anonymously, similar to applications such a Secret or Whisper which allow its members to post anonymous confessions, private thoughts and the like.
While this proof of this gossip is feeble at best, it will be interesting to see if such an application comes to fruition. Considering Facebook’s long-fought battles regarding user privacy and its recent gaffe which led some users to flock to a new, anonymous, social network, Ello, Facebook may be trying to mend wounds of some users with the development of such an app.