Each week, we round up the latest headlines on trends and technologies shaping the future of advertising and communications. It’s part inspiration, part education and all about helping our team and our clients grow.

Here’s what got us talking this week:

The future of Facebook

By now you’ve likely heard Mark Zuckerberg made headlines Wednesday with his 3,200-word manifesto on the future of Facebook.

The TL;DR: He’s all-in on private, encrypted, short-lifespan messaging – marking a shift from the “town hall” style of Facebook today to the more intimate “living room” experience of 1:1 / small group chats, which Zuckerberg envisions happening seamlessly between Facebook Messenger, Instagram’s direct messages and WhatsApp.

Here are 5 things you need to know:

  • Facebook as we know it isn’t going away. The focus on private messaging reflects a growing preference for private chats over TMI newsfeed posts. (Bless.) But the vision is for the more personal experience to exist alongside the public channel. (Adweek)
  • The shift won’t happen overnight. This will be a 3-phase process: First, build an experience users want. Second, create ways for them to interact organically with businesses. Third, monetize it. (WIRED)
  • And really, it might not happen at all. This isn’t a product launch, but a philosophy for the future. That said, Facebook has a bit of a track record of big ideas that barely (or don’t) see the light of day – think Messages and Facebook Home. (Fast Company)
  • It would have a marked impact for advertisers. Facebook offers brands cost-effective access to highly targeted audiences. Zuckerberg acknowledges content encryption likely would, in some ways, make ad targeting more difficult. But marketing experts seem to see big upsides, ranging from streamlined workflows for managing ads across multiple platforms to the potential for entirely new targeting opportunities based, for example, on SMS data. (AdAge, Business Insider)
  • Start planning now. Early chatter suggests advertisers embrace stories and chat bots, both of which are already fixtures in Facebook’s messaging apps and offer opportunities for highly targeted interactions. (Business Insider)

The interesting thing about the timing of this week’s news is that it dropped within 24 hours of a report that Facebook has lost 15 million users since 2017 – most notably among the 12-34 set. Which brings us to…

The 2019 Infinite Dial report

The headline from this year’s digital media consumer behavior report: smart speaker and podcast adoption rates are on the rise, social media usage – with the exception of Instagram – is on the decline.

The most exciting takeaway from this report is that podcasts appear to have finally reached a tipping point, with the majority of Americans now saying they’ve listened at least once, and one in three listens to at least one podcast every month. It’s the biggest YOY growth in listenership since the report began tracking podcasts in 2006.

Bottom line for marketers: It’s time to put aside any lingering skepticism about using podcasts to reach your target audience. If you aren’t already, start tapping them to make quality, targeted connections via advertising, branded content – or both.

SXSW preview

The festival kicks off today in Austin, so expect your Twitter and Instagram feeds to be full of humblebrags from attendees posting from immersive experiences like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” activation (which has a dynamite non-profit tie-in, by the way) and Netflix’s “The Highwaymen House.” Digiday has a fun, quick round-up of what’s in and what’s out this year. Also check out the back half of this week’s Yeah, That’s Probably An Ad podcast for what’s got the Adweek crew excited. Spoiler: It’s the weird and / or unexpected.

That’s it for this week. Have thoughts? Let’s talk about them on Twitter.

Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash