in eCommerce, The Future

Why Facebook’s entry into the bot market will impact the future of mobile commerce.

Facebook’s recent announcement about its entry into the bot space is highly significant because it exposes people around the world to bots (aka micro apps) and artificial intelligence on a scale that other platforms simply aren’t able to. Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are joining in, and it seems that the new rise and re-purposing of bots is coming.

It’s hard to miss that Facebook has seen incredible revenue growth, and it’s 2016 Q1 numbers were the hot topic of conversation in the valley.

Facebook’s revenue reached $5.382 billion in the first quarter of 2016, up 52 percent from $3.543 billion in the year-ago period. Ad revenue climbed 57 percent year-over-year, to $5.201 billion, and mobile ad revenue— which accounted for 82 percent of total ad revenue — was up 75 percent compared with the first quarter of 2015, to $4.2 billion. (Via Adweek)

The important point to pull from that report is the incredible growth in theirmobile ad revenue — making up a whopping 82% of total ad revenue.

And just a few days ago Facebook announced that it is going to expand it’s marketing platform and other network giants like Instagram are following suit. The numbers are showing that mobile is one of the fastest growing advertising channels, and will rise by a 26.5% CAGR through 2020. What’s even more interesting is that mobile display ads, including banners, sponsorships and other mobile media will over-take display-related spending in the next 12–18 months.

We’re moving our entire lives onto our phones — and this will change the landscape of how we purchase goods and services.

Retail incumbents who don’t keep up with the transition to mobile will be slowly starved out of the market which is creating a massive opportunity for brand innovators to take over and for startups.

So why are we building bots on existing platforms and why does it matter? Over the last decade, we saw the creation of massive non-bureaucratic networks — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. that united people online. But now we’ve reached the transition point where the future isn’t more networks, it’s expanding services on existing platforms that drive our digital lives.

Consumers spend 85% of their time on their phone and only heavily use 5 non-native apps which are typically instant messaging services and social networks. (via techcrunch) Modern consumers expect brands to go where consumers are, and the days of brick and mortar as the primary modus of consumption are dwindling.

In 2015, the global mobile commerce market was $315B, and it’s expected to more than double to $669B by 2018 (source)

Facebook’s adoption is simply a snowball effect for exposure to regular interactions with AI, and as we grow more comfortable with sharing information and talking with a bot, the technology itself will become more robust. We’re already seeing a lot of focus on improving native language recognition which will empower our transition into a human/AI hybrid phase for commerce, service, and support.

AI/Bot service-agents will be able to qualify leads in a fraction of the time, and will be able to provide an entire suite of customer-facing services while collecting consumer data for brands. We’ll be able to give an instantaneously personal shopping experience for every customer. 1800 Flowers is already there, and have introduced an IBM Watson-powered gift concierge that uses cognitive capabilities to tailor product suggestions for shoppers.

Shopping for and purchasing goods via Facebook messenger & SMS UI is already here, and it’s going to quickly become our new normal.

Mobile commerce technology will create an entirely new economy, and the market opportunity will encapsulate nearly any B2C business — and it’s going to happen as a seamless integration into our daily lives.