Facebook is hosting its F8 developer conference on Wednesday—its first developer conference since 2011—so we’re expecting some big news to come out of the day-long event in San Francisco. 

The last F8 conference was very consumer-focused: Actor and comedian Andy Samberg made an appearance as Mark Zuckerberg, and later, the real Mark Zuckerberg introduced Facebook Timeline, the redesigned user profiles that changed how people viewed and used the social network.

It’s likely this year will be a little less focused on the look and feel of Facebook’s website and apps. Instead, Facebook will reportedly introduce features that appeal to those that build and implement Facebook’s various tools and services across their applications.

Zuckerberg probably won’t take the stage and passionately yell “Developers! Developers! Developers!” but you can bet that’s where the main focus will be at this year’s event.

Facebook’s Ad Network

During Facebook’s first quarter earnings call last week, COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company is still in “very early testing for a mobile ad network.” But while Sandberg might have many thinking the ad network isn’t ripe yet, multiple reports say Facebook is indeed ready and prepared to unveil this new way for developers and publishers to display ads in third-party applications at F8.

According to TechCrunch, the ad platform will be called the “Facebook Audience Network” and will utilize Facebook data to better target users—even when they aren’t directly using Facebook’s own apps. 

Facebook began testing a mobile ad network earlier this year as a way for developers to monetize mobile applications. Initial tests were limited to a handful of advertisers and partners, but several months have passed since that period and it looks like Facebook is ready to release the Audience Network to the masses. 

Facebook’s mobile ads have been hugely successful, and now account for almost 60% of the company’s ad revenue. Mobile app install ads are performing particularly well; those little buttons in ads that encourage users to download apps are just one of Facebook’s most lucrative ad products

A Facebook ad network will go head-to-head with Google’s AdMob and Twitter’s MoPub networks. But Facebook’s access to more personalized data would arguably give advertisers a richer targeting experience, and a more successful advertising platform. 

Building Apps For The Next One Billion

Facebook’s Internet.org initiative is still a bit of a mystery. Sure, the company has outlined plans that could theoretically bring the Internet to everyone in developing countries, but there’s still a disconnect between the planning and execution stages. That’s where the Facebook Innovation Lab comes in. 

At F8, Facebook will reportedly give developers a preview of the technologies available in the Innovation Lab to be located in Menlo Park, California, and developers can test their applications in networks that simulate the speed of connectivity in developing countries. 

Zuckerberg is hyper-focused on the Internet.org initiative and finding new ways to connect the next one billion people. It’s likely he’ll outline more plans for how the social network will make it easier for developers to build and monetize apps in countries that are just now coming online, and why it’s so important to provide resources for connectivity in areas that currently don’t have it. 

Building For All Platforms

Keen observers of how the Facebook Platform has evolved might notice some small but unmistakable changes as a result of the Parse acquisition: Facebook has become more developer friendly.

Thanks to Parse, Facebook is in a unique position to help developers build apps for both mobile and Web that integrate with the social network—but it’s not stopping there. 

Facebook is betting that virtual reality will be huge, and likely one day replace mobile devices. But it’s still unclear how the Oculus acquisition will fit into Facebook’s overall strategy. The F8 developer conference would be a great place to shine some light on how Facebook’s foray into virtual reality will appeal to mobile and game developers, and how developers can build more apps for the Facebook platform with the promise of making them easier and more accessible to the masses. 

A Day For Developers

ReadWrite will be at F8 this year updating you with all the developments as they come. Considering this is Facebook’s first developer conference in almost three years, we expect plenty of news that will affect our readers’ efforts to build, monetize and grow their apps on Facebook. 

Stay tuned!

Lead image courtesy of kris krüg on Flickr