- Facebook announced in a company blog post that it’s introducing a new camera for its Messenger chat app that can filter virtual art, “masks” and holiday-themed 3-D effects over user selfies.
- The company said it is responding to how the camera is replacing the keyboard as messaging becomes more visual, with over 25 billion emojis, photos, stickers and videos sent every day on Messenger.
- In related news, Engadget reported that Facebook is testing out more AI capabilities in Messenger with its M chat personal assistant, namely through the bot offering suggestions based on things like stickers and Google Hangouts-style location sharing with friends.
Few people — Facebook likely included — assumed Messenger would take off in the way it has this year. The standalone app, previously seen as a largely auxiliary piece to Facebook’s main platform, now hosts over 30,000 chatbots and has managed to lead the conversation around the untapped marketing potential hidden in messaging services.
Though the latest camera updates are yet another blatant crib from competitor Snapchat, they also demonstrate Facebook is moving quickly to build out Messenger's capabilities beyond simply sending texts to a friend. The flashy new feature also serves as another bid to net the attention of young users who've migrated to Snap as their go-to social app.
The AI tests, for their part, come as part of the trend toward tying social and mobile consumer behavior to the real world through geo-targeting and location data. Messenger's M chat PA is a natural extension of the platform's growing home for bot tools and development, and will only learn more functionalities as it’s widely adopted by users.
By arriving early on the chatbot scene stateside, Messenger has smartly positioned itself as the lead social platform for testing the technology with brands like Domino’s Pizza. Foreign apps, and especially China’s WeChat, are arguably years ahead of Messenger in this space, but U.S. competitors like Twitter have only recently even integrated bots to their main platform.
Though marketers are excited about messaging apps, there remains a lack of standards and guidelines in regards to how to best integrate them into larger mobile strategies. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) disclosed plans Tuesday to help better educate marketers on identifying targeting and measurement in the space, as well as to provide best-practice guidance on native ad units.