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Facebook is extending its Analytics for Apps tool in an effort to allow businesses to better understand customers. The social networking company is releasing in beta the support for web measurement and cross-platform metrics. With this, developers will be able to glean insights about users from not only the mobile app, but also the desktop and mobile web. Today’s announcement comes as Facebook holds its annual FbStart event and celebrates supporting more than 800,000 unique apps.

In addition to this announcement, Facebook is shaking up its annual F8 developer conference. The company revealed that next year’s dates: April 18 and 19, but it will be held in San Jose, California. This bucks a trend — the previous six conferences were in San Francisco.

Blending mobile and the web together

But before we talk about that, let’s get back to analytics. When tracking user behaviors in mobile apps, developers needed to use an SDK, but things get a bit more complex when working with multiple platforms. This is where the JavaScript SDK for Facebook Login and sharing comes into play. The company has extended this developer tool to support app events.

If businesses have incorporated the Facebook pixel into their code to create audiences and measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns, that data will already be incorporated into Facebook’s Analytics for Apps. Administrators just need to tweak a setting within their analytics dashboard to access it. And although Facebook pixel data will be shown starting from the date analytics was enabled, the company plans on backfilling historic data “soon.”

Web measurement and cross-platform metrics

Facebook has also launched a feature for pixel users called event source groups, which pulls together data from multiple sources, including other Facebook pixels and mobile apps. “This gives you a unified view of your customer activity across all of these sources, all in one place,” the company explained.

And because you’re analyzing multiple platforms, now you have to integrate everything together, so Facebook has debuted a beta feature called user properties that lets advertisers integrate online and offline customer data, including those from customer relationship management systems and mobile apps. But how is sharing affected? Well, the sharing insights feature has been updated so you now know how frequently a recent link on a website is shared on Facebook. This capability will be made available to all those apps that leverage sharing insights.

Sharing Insights Virality feature

Here’s how Facebook explained it:

This allows you to see when your content is becoming popular on Facebook based on all articles published in the last 10 hours and which URLs have been shared the most in the last 5 hours. You can use this data to create strategies to make your website content even more popular, or create similar content in the future.

Lastly, custom audiences based on the people who have shared specific content from a website to Facebook are now supported. Custom audiences are designed to segment customers and prospects so advertisers can effectively target campaigns.

“We know that in the course of completing a task, people are highly likely to switch between multiple platforms and devices. In fact, 53 percent of people who own two devices switch between them to complete tasks or activities, and 77 percent of people who have three or more devices do the same,” Facebook shared.

Save the date for F8 2017

OK, now back to talking about F8. In 2017, the developer conference will be at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, with two days of keynotes and more than 45 sessions. Facebook didn’t disclose why it’s shifting away from San Francisco, but it’s probably to keep the event fresh and be more appealing to those who happen to be based south of the city.

This isn’t the first time that Facebook has held a conference in San Jose; its Open Compute Summit often is held in the very same venue as next year’s F8.

What will be discussed at the event will be revealed over time, but we might see updates around Facebook Messenger’s platform (and bots), Oculus and virtual reality, live video,, and maybe new technologies that the company is building similar to its 360-degree camera. Here’s a recap of last year’s event, if you’re interested.

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