Facebook Portal is entering the marketing landscape at a strange time. The video calling offering is well-timed for marketers, but comes with so many reassurances to consumers about privacy that it’s hard to tell if the words are meant to alleviate concerns about the social network’s data fiascos or consumer fears about AI.
The technology that will start shipping in November joins a growing list of voice interfaces that present challenges and opportunities for marketers.
With Google’s search results being mobile-first, they’re increasingly becoming natural language-first.
There’s a renewed need for marketers to answer phones as searchers activate calls from the devices.
Voice interfaces are storing user preferences for their later use.
As a result, mobile advertising and analytics functions benefit the most, Sven Lubek writes for us last month:
“Advertisers will need to adapt to a consumer landscape where touchpoints become listening points, and search marketers are laying important groundwork by focusing on what can be done with devices, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. comScore data forecasts that 50% of all search will be via voice by 2020. With voice superseding touchscreens in the future, understanding and improving search for their brand and products is key for advertisers now.”
Good Timing for a Voice Interface
In a market where FaceTime is popular, but other technology earns headlines like this one from Gizmodo in May — “Microsoft Kinect Refuses to Die” — it’s difficult to predict what technology will become popular. But Facebook is ensuring Portal can connect to users on its uber-popular Messenger app. That alone presents a bit of confusion — should marketers advertise via Messenger chatbots or Portal? Or both?
Marketing Land on Oct. 9 quotes CMO Darin Archer of e-commerce solutions provider Elastic Path:
“It feels like the smart home is on its way to being normal,” Archer said. “I think the challenge will be in figuring out how and/or when to position one’s brand, products or services in this environment. It will be interesting to see how Facebook considers developers and marketing budgets with this new technology and how it will differ from having a Messenger chatbot.”
As Reuters reports on Oct. 8 of Facebook Portal vs. Amazon Echo:
“Portal could help Facebook stop users from flocking to rival chat and video apps on other speakers and give it a new, wholly controlled environment to sell ads.
“About 32% of U.S. consumers own a smart speaker, but another 16% plan to buy one by the end of 2018, according to an Adobe Analytics survey released last month.
“Facebook expects to stand apart on the market because of Portal’s touchscreen and the 400 million people who call through its Messenger service each month worldwide. Rival smart speakers with screens lack a video-chatting app that is as popular.”
Social Network Data Breach Fears or AI Trepidation?
Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica controversy has users concerned about data privacy, so the network’s eliminated third-party data providers and taken many precautions to ensure user data remains safe. So the wording with the Facebook Portal announcement reassures consumers that if they buy the devices, they’ll stay in control of their data.
Artificial intelligence also has a data privacy issue, as well as an overall creepiness factor. (Facbook Portal has a screen that pans and zooms as you move around.) But many consumer fears remain rooted in science fiction.
So the Oct. 8 Facebook Newsroom post announcing the tools — Facebook Portal and Portal+ — says the screens that will, hands-free, follow video callers around the room and enhance their voices won’t be intrusive:
• You can completely disable the camera and microphone with a single tap.
• Portal and Portal+ also come with a camera cover, so you can easily block your camera’s lens at any time and still receive incoming calls and notifications, plus use voice commands.
• To manage Portal access within your home, you can set a four- to 12-digit passcode to keep the screen locked. Changing the passcode requires your Facebook password.
We also want to be upfront about what information Portal collects, help people understand how Facebook will use that information, and explain the steps we take to keep it private and secure:
• Facebook doesn’t listen to, view, or keep the contents of your Portal video calls. Your Portal conversations stay between you and the people you’re calling. In addition, video calls on Portal are encrypted, so your calls are always secure.
• For added security, Smart Camera and Smart Sound use AI technology that runs locally on Portal, not on Facebook servers. Portal’s camera doesn’t use facial recognition and doesn’t identify who you are.
• Like other voice-enabled devices, Portal only sends voice commands to Facebook servers after you say, “Hey Portal.” You can delete your Portal’s voice history in your Facebook Activity Log at any time.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.