While Facebook is dreaming of a future without apps, it is also reminding developers to buy its mobile-app install ads.
That was one of the funny contrasts Tuesday at the first day of Facebook’s F8 developers conference in San Francisco.
During the keynote, the social-media giant laid out its vision of the future, including a new platform to let businesses build so-called chatbots to automate conversations through its Messenger app.
“This is the start of a new era,” Messenger chief David Marcus told Wired, describing how he thinks we’re hurtling toward a future in which messaging apps will become the hub for all our activity, eliminating the need to download outside apps.
He built this case onstage by describing how most people spend all their time in a small group of their favorite apps and hate installing new ones.
“We download fewer and fewer apps, and we certainly don’t allow push notifications apps for new downloaded apps anymore,” Marcus said.
The takeaway: Developers should start building into Messenger to embrace the future.
But the tone was decidedly different during a later panel on driving growth with mobile-app ads, when Facebook told app developers how great its ad products were for driving downloads and engagement.
After all, “87% of time spent on mobile is in apps,” product manager Jehan Damji said onstage.
But as Marcus suggested, most of that time is spent in only a few apps (80% of mobile time is spent in a user’s top three apps, according to ComScore).
Facebook’s platform has driven 2 billion app installs and has 25,000 active advertisers. It can charge significantly more for them than it can for other ad units, which made mobile-install app ads one of Facebook’s fastest-growing and most lucrative businesses.
Facebook will surely keep trying to persuade businesses to use its services even as it tries to usher in the future. Facebook loves talking about its 10-year road map, and it considers its big Messenger dreams a five-year project, not something that’s ready now.
But it was a funny contrast attending both talks in the same day and seeing Facebook use the same auditorium to talk about the impending irrelevancy of apps and then, a few hours later, all the reasons app developers should be plowing in money to promote their apps.