Facebook management said previously that they’re planning to build out a whole family of apps, and this year’s F8 Conference was a huge step toward that goal. The social network now offers a full suite of apps rather than just the first Facebook app it started with, and analysts think this is a good thing.
In a pair of reports dated March 25, analysts at Jefferies and Stifel both weighed in on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s F8 announcements.
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Meet the Facebook family
Stifel analyst Scott Devitt and his team said the announcements about all the new apps at F8 this year “marks the company’s biggest shift in strategy in many years.” The social network’s main app has 1.4 million monthly active users, but its other apps are certainly nothing to sneeze at. Groups and WhatsApp each have 700 million users, while Messenger has 600 million and Instagram has 300 million users.
One of the big problems Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was beginning to have with all those different apps, according to the Stifel team, was sharing content across all of them to different audiences. The social network is solving this problem, however, by adding a sort of “share sheet” that’s front and center to make sharing across apps easier.
The social network is also planning to enable sharing of richer content types in the News Feed. Also Facebook announced plans to make it possible for users to embed video uploaded to its network on other sites, thus generating more views that are off of Facebook’s platform.
Facebook builds out Messenger platform
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) management also revealed plans to turn its Messenger app into a platform in its own right so that third party developers can integrate features and build their own apps on the platform. Developers are now able to build “richer tools for expression” on Messenger than what Facebook could have done itself, according to the Stifel team.
They expect more than 40 apps for Messenger to be built by third party developers, including ESPN, and be prepared to launch within the next several days.
Businesses for Messenger could offer e-commerce opportunities
They add that Businesses for Messenger looks compelling as well because it offers an easier way for users to interact with businesses and track receipts or shipping information after they make purchases. Businesses for Messenger will launch with several major partners, including the USPS, zulily, FedEx and Everlane.
In their report, Jefferies analyst Brian Pitz and his team suggested that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) could be preparing e-commerce opportunities for itself through Businesses for Messenger. The social network already unveiled a payments feature for Messenger so friends can pay their friends through it. They also suggest that Businesses for Messenger could become an ad platform in and of itself by allowing businesses to pay in order to connect with users.
More LiveRail developments
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) also announced a couple of major initiatives for LiveRail, the supply-side platform it acquired some time ago. LiveRail will now add Facebook data so that advertisers can better target users of the social network off of its platform. The other development is that LiveRail will also manage display ads in addition to video ads in third-party apps.
The Jefferies team sees these developments as being great for Facebook’s video opportunities. They said Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is starting to lay a foundation to run ads on other sites through its video embed feature. They think the result will be more video views and more places to run video ads.
The Jefferies analysts estimate that online video ads will offer a $17 billion per year opportunity in the next couple of years in the U.S. as brands shift more and more of their TV ad budgets online. Facebook’s number of video views has soared in the last several months, climbing from 1 billion in September to 3 billion more recently. As a result, they think video ads will become a major source of growth for the social network.
As of this writing, shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) were up 0.62% to $83.44 per share.