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…. and revamps Messenger app to target merchants

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Facebook has launched a made-over version of its Messenger app, making it more simple to use and adding translation and augmented reality (AR) to make it a tool for merchants to engage consumers with.

The move marks a move by the social media giant to move messaging into the commercial realm, using it as a marketing and sales tool for merchants that are already starting to use Facebook as a marketplace to sell things.

Already working with ASUS, Kia, Nike, and Sephora, the AR feature will allow retailers to show and demo products in Messenger with full AR to let consumers get a much better idea of products before they buy them.

“With this launch, businesses large and small can leverage the Camera Effects Platform to easily integrate AR into their Messenger experience, bringing the virtual and physical worlds one step closer together,” explains David Marcus, VP of Messaging Products at Facebook. “So, when a person interacts with your business in Messenger, you can prompt them to open the camera, which will be pre-populated with filters and AR effects that are specific to your brand. From there, people can share the image or video to their story or in a group or one-to conversation or they can simply save it to their camera roll.”

The revamped app will also leverage Facebook’s M translation bot, initially translating English-Spanish, but will soon add other languages.

“Now when people connected through Marketplace receive a message in a language that is different from their default language in Messenger, M [Facebook’s translation bot] will ask them if they want to translate the message,” says Marcus. “This will help drive commerce between buyers and sellers despite language barriers. At launch, translations from English to Spanish (and vice-versa) will be available in Marketplace conversations taking place in the US.”

Currently, 1.3 billion people use Messenger every month, exchanging 8 billion messages between people and businesses.

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