Want to know what Facebook will be announcing at f8 tomorrow? We’ve got the definitive guide straight from Facebook. In addition to announcing a number of new tools during a keynote at f8 tomorrow, Facebook will be hosting a “New Tools” track for developers focused on four key topics: “Open Graph and Social Plugins”, “Facebook Credits”, the “Graph API”, and “Better Analytics Through Insights”. What do all these things mean? Here’s the rundown.
The Open Graph
Facebook’s a relatively abstract concept that is a clear manifestation of engineers. In object oriented programming developers are focused on creating reusable “object” that can be reused throughout their code. In the real world we also interact with various objects and Facebook would like to map these interactions. Whether it’s events, brands, websites, restaurants, or an infinite number of objects, Facebook wants to may the relationships of these objects with users in order to have a more effective picture of what users are interested in.
Through measuring the strength of these relationships, Facebook will have a greater understanding of users and be able to provide increasingly targeted ads to those individuals. While the Open Graph API was once focused on identity, it appears that Facebook Connect is the company’s identity component, something that they are still pushing heavily (and now competing with Twitter, Apple, and Google for).
How this API will function is not clear, but the company will detail all aspects of the new Open Graph API tomorrow in exhaustive detail at 2:30 PM PDT tomorrow.
As part of tomorrow’s “New Tools” agenda, Facebook has a session called “Open Graph and Social Plugins”. This could include Facebook’s new toolbars as well as stream widgets that enable developers to implement Facebook’s social features with a few quick lines of code. As we’ve been writing continuously, Facebook appears to be focused on “socializing the web” whether or not that socialization takes place within Facebook’s walls.
While we can speculate what those widgets are, it’s pretty clear that it will involve “Like” buttons, an embeddable stream, and social toolbars among other things.
Want to monetize your applications? After over a year of testing within applications, Facebook is prepared to roll out Credits for all developers. The service is primarily focused on monetizing virtual goods, however there’s no doubt that developers will find interesting ways to implement Facebook Credits. I’ve already spoken with countless developers who have wanted to develop interesting ways to use Facebook Credits within their applications.
Even if there are only a few top developers who account for the majority of Facebook Credits’ revenue, the company has an ecosystem of hundreds of thousands of developers who will implement applications and potentially produce a significant new revenue stream for Facebook if all goes well. While Facebook is an underdog in the payments space, the massive size of the company’s development Platform provides them with a significant advantage.
A New Insights Product
As we wrote in March, Facebook is preparing to take on Google Analytics, enabling developers to track a number of events from users, but more specifically, giving website owners access to important data not revealed through Google Analytics including gender, age, and a number of other variables. This type of insight (no pun intended) will prove priceless, enabling not only developers and website owners with deeper insight into the users visiting their site, but instantly provide the ability to adjust their product based on various user segmentations.
What this will mean to competing analytics products is unknown, but I would assume that this new positioning is a direct target at Google, as the company aims to extend their reach to all advertisers. The company is focused on revenue growth, most of which is being driven by performance advertising. Tracking users once they leave the site is key to Facebook’s future advertising expansion and the new upgraded insights product will help power that expansion.
Strangely enough there are no sessions focused on location, something that many developers have been anticipating. While the company may be implementing location services, it appears that location is still in its testing phase, or at least there are no break-out sessions planned on the topic. Instead, this f8 is completely focused on expanding “socialization” to the entire web. While the Open Graph API will prove to be a direct competitor to Twitter’s new annotations service, the one unanswered question on this topic is whether or not Facebook will provide a more structured format for developers in contrast to Twitter’s completely unstructured model.
Also for those developers expecting Facebook to suddenly announce new viral channels for application growth, don’t hold your breath. Facebook is focused on promoting one thing right now: the open graph API. That means, it will be up to developers to build one of the most structured identity databases in the world. Not only does Facebook wish to know how we’re connected to each other, but how we’re connected to other types of objects and interests. It’s a pretty abstract concept. Tomorrow Facebook isn’t just answering to developers though, many are looking for a bold new product future that will help the company grown to become the approximately $25+ billion company that many people believe it is.
Want to view the full agenda and the streaming version of the event? You’ll be able to watch it here.