Facebook opens analytics and FbStart to developers of Messenger’s 34,000 bots

Facebook has been putting a lot of effort into growing Messenger as a bot platform this year, and now there are 34,000 of them in existence, built to automatically give you news and entertainment, let you shop, and more, expanding Messenger’s use beyond simple chats with friends. Today, that strategy is getting a significant boost: Facebook says it will now make bots trackable on its free analytics platform, alongside analytics for ads and apps. And Facebook is also opening up its developer program, FbStart, to bot developers as well.

Both potentially give bot makers more reasons to build and monitor how their new widgets are working.

Josh Twist, a product manager for Facebook’s bots efforts in Messenger, tells me that Facebook expanded the analytics and FbStart tools after a lot of requests from the developers.

“Getting bot support for messenger is the most frequently requested feature,” he said. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: Facebook already provided these kinds of tools to other developers on its platform, and bots have seen a huge surge of interest, both from users interested in trying these out to see how they work and also developers keen to see if this is the next big thing.

Analytics, of course, is an essential tool for a developer, both to be able to track how well something is working and other kids of feedback. Here Facebook says that features that will be included are reaches across mobile and desktop devices and measurement of customers’ journeys across apps and websites.

Developers also will be able to view reports on messages sent, messages received, and people who block or unblock your app. And they will also get access to anonymized data reports on bot demographics, which include details like age, gender, education, interests, country and language to figure out who is using your bot.


FbStart, meanwhile, currently has some 9,000 members who get feedback from Facebook on their apps, ads and bots, as well as Facebook ads credits and other free tools from partners like Amazon, Dropbox, and Stripe. If Facebook was looking at ways of swelling those ranks, tapping 34,000 developers could be one way of doing that.

Twist points out that while there are a lot of standalone bot developers coming to Facebook for the first time, there is a lot of crossover with other Facebook services like apps and ads. Those who are leveraging these together — for example using the recent ability to channel a person from a News Feed ad through to your Messenger experience — will be able to look at the effectiveness of those efforts now, and make potentially more ad buys based on them.

Twist tells me that for now, the analytics will cover bots built just for Messenger, although don’t be surprised if Facebook expands it to other platforms. “It is something we have talked about and haven’t ruled it out,” he said. “It’s possible, absolutely, since we already support analytics for other platforms for apps. But right now we’re prioritizing support for Messenger bots.


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