As expected, Facebook had a slew of announcements of f8, many of which impact those in travel using the social media platform as a marketing tool - so pretty much everyone. Here are some of the more pertinent travel tidbits.
This was not specifically announced at f8, but continues to be a huge development for geo-location in travel. The new feature allows Facebook users to see friends nearby them at any given time - and, more importantly, creates a log of coordinates for later use by the platform.
This is where the feature clashes with the consistent clamoring for more privacy. By creating a log of where a user has been, there's an enormous potential for an invasion of moment-to-moment privacy. However, this doesn't seem to scare off anyone, underscored by the recent Foursquare split news.
Even so, travel uses will be very compelling with Nearby Friends, especially for in-destination marketing. There are many opportunities that this data offers, not just to target real-time offers but also to target specific in-destination profiles that match a particular path throughout a city/destination.
Ambient location sharing, or the ability to share location without opting-in, will drive this emerging functionality.
The friction to seamlessly share location at all times is quickly dropping to zero - a significant development that has been foreseen for years, and one that will unlock a raft of new marketing opportunities - if the user allows them.
Facebook Audience Network
The aforementioned Nearby Friends functionality is enhanced by the announcement of the Facebook Audience Network (or FAN, to be cutesy about it). Not only could a travel co target a user with a specific location data profile, but this information could theoretically be used to target them when they are out and about in other applications outside of Facebook.
The ads will be available in Banner, Interstitial and Native, and will feature the "Install Now" button to drive actual download conversions on mobile - another useful metric for marketers looking for the install with in-destination or demographically-targeted travelers.
Facebook expands its platform here, offering advertisers the most comprehensive data set out there.
For mobile app owners, this network is also a much more profitable way to monetize, as Facebook's ads have higher conversions given both the ultimate conversion (an app download) and the increased targeting accuracy due to the data set.
For travel companies, app links could be one of the most significant developments as far as increasing conversion and engagement - and also perhaps offering new monetization and partnership opportunities.
App links allow developers to link to a specific screen in another app, rather than pointing to a generic open/login/launch screen and forcing the user to go through the motions there.
For example, a city guide app could list its top hotels and link to the specific pages in an affiliate-enabled booking app, or a hotel chain could offer a direct link to an in-app page of a particular hotel if a re-engagement ad is targeted to travelers.
This deep-linking is obviously lucrative for Facebook, as it increases placement opportunities for ads, and can also increase engagement across an app ecosystem. Perhaps we will start seeing the first app networks to emerge - especially as apps start splitting into discrete functionalities, with a parent company that wants to ensure engagement and conversion across the apps, which are each dedicated to a specific use.
Understanding that the continued conversation about privacy is important - and also perhaps to deflect a bit of the attention from the "Nearby Friends" feature which might be the biggest data grab in Facebook's history - the company has announced an Anonymous Login feature.
This will give apps another button for logging users in - without any data sharing whatsoever. This means that those hesitant to give new apps access to full data will be able to test drive apps - and then decide whether or not the utility of said app warrants full access.
This button should increase adoption of certain travel apps - say meta search apps or apps that allow for price comparison - where users see no need to give up any access to personal social data. By increasing the likelihood of a user logging in to experience the app, well-designed apps have a higher chance of capturing share when they might have lost it due to concern about Facebook's sharing of data.
Granular data control
The above anonymous login will also be coupled with more granular control of data by users. This means that apps can allow users to check off what specific pieces of data they want shared with an app - a win for users.
While some developers might be saddened at losing access to certain data, a satisfied user will be more likely to stick around. And the loss should be more than offset by the newfound ability to potentially see granular location data.
There's also the market research potential of learning what users are willing to share - by considering the selections, developers can actually get a sense of why a particular person is using the app, and what use/utility they see for it upfront.
TripAdvisor is mentioned in closing the piece on the New Facebook login - with a 27% increase in engagement thanks to FB.
As part of Facebook login's utility, the company will also now encourage users to download a branded app when a user logins into a mobile website - another means of boosting actual downloads of native apps for travel brands.
NB: Mark Zuckerberg image courtesy Shutterstock.