Facebook and the Future of The Living Room

Mar 21, 2019 • Aaron Goldman

Mark Zuckerberg made waves 2 weeks ago with his proclamation that Facebook would focus on building a privacy-focused messaging and social network platform.

His post begins with this observation:

“Over the last 15 years, Facebook and Instagram have helped people connect with friends, communities, and interests in the digital equivalent of a town square. But people increasingly also want to connect privately in the digital equivalent of the living room.”

It’s an interesting choice of words as the living room represents the fronts lines of an epic battle for consumer attention with marketers and media companies alike vying for a seat at the table, er, couch.

But perhaps the most important word here is one that some may see as a throwaway – also. Indeed, it’s not an either/or proposition. People want the town square AND the living room.

Ben Thompson keyed in here with his Stratechery analysis, pointing out that “Facebook is going to continue to exist as it has to date, as will Instagram, including all of the data collection and ad targeting that currently exist. The ‘Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking’ is in addition to Facebook’s current products, not in place of.”

In a comment on his original post, Zuckerberg reinforces this fact: “This privacy-focused vision is meant to complement the existing more public social platforms.”

From a marketing perspective, there are plenty of opportunity for brands and advertising across Facebook’s properties, even those that boast living room intimacy. Zuckerberg’s post cites “reducing permanence” and “interoperability” as two staples of what a privacy-focused user-experience will be like. The former smacks of Stories and the latter refers to integrating services for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp. These are two trends we called out in November via homage to Homer Simpson as “the cause of, and solution to, all of Facebook’s problems.”

We’ve also been pointing to Watch as something to, well, watch. In our 2019 predictions, we speculated that Watch could be spun out into its own app and commented that “Facebook is taking its place as a holding company through the expansion of its portfolio of platforms and content that allow for cross-platform experiences.”

After all, what vision for a living room doesn’t include multiple screens?

Now it’s time to envision the rest of 4C’s Insights.

Read 4C’s Insights Newsletter Volume 151 here.