From Moscow to NYC, Facebook Makes Big Social Ad Pitch
With Facebook's stock down 40 percent, the company is going on the offensive.
Facebook is pulling out all the stops this Advertising Week — trotting out advertising executives from across the organization to pitch to ad buyers and brands that Facebook ads work. The company is sharing the results of studies, and talking about how it closely targets users, which means potentially better ad results, and also potential privacy concerns.
The social network is shifting from a period of dodging the press to taking every opportunity to putting its execs in the spotlight, starting, of course, with Sheryl Sandberg's exclusive interview with CNBC Monday. (Read More: Where Facebook Is Looking to Grow: COO Sheryl Sandberg.)
On Tuesday at the New York Times Center, Facebook's head of Global Creative Solutions, Mark D'Arcy, spoke to an audience of ad industry execs about how Facebook allows mass brands to be "personal." He said Facebook allows "all businesses to become small businesses," bringing a new level of authenticity to larger marketers.
He brought out VPs from PepsiCo's Frito-Lay, Target , and Unilever to talk about how they use Facebook, and the best practices they've found helped them connect with consumers.
The main take-aways: To succeed you need scale, both on Facebook and with continuity across multiple platforms. There was also a lot of talk about the power of tapping into consumers interactions with their friends — a conversation is more powerful if it's coming from another consumer, rather than the brand itself.
This comes the day after Brad Smallwood, Facebook's Head of Measurement and Insights, at the IAB MIXX conference discussed the results of a study conducted with Datalogix, using a tool to measure in-store purchases after users saw a specific ad.
Smallwood is trying to change the perception that "clicks" are the best way to measure whether or not ads work, trying to dispel the common notion that the "click-through rate" is the way ad rates should be determined and ROI should be measured.
Instead Smallwood is promoting the measurement of "impressions" — the number of people who see an ad — which works much better for Facebook. He said that companies should take advantage of Facebook's massive reach — saying campaigns that maximized their reach had the best return. Also no surprise, considering Facebook's interest, he said marketers need to optimize the frequency of their campaigns.
The bottom line — Facebook said marketers need to use Facebook more often, they should pay to reach a wider range of users, and Facebook's scale is the most important thing.
Even Mark Zuckerberg, who is in Moscow, made a pitch for the power of Facebook ads in a Q&A with students. He stressed that everything is moving in Facebook's direction. (Read More: What is Facebook's Zuckerberg Doing in Russia?)
"Every industry for the next 5 to 10 years will be rethought and be social and go mobile. And especially now with the last version of the iOs — with this great Facebook integration to have app plugged in with Facebook," Zuckerberg said. "People want to do stuff with their friends."
Presumably advertisers will want to reach them while they're having those interactions.
Also on Tuesday afternoon, Sandberg will take the stage at an Ad Week-related event, the IAB MIXX, along with Marc Andreessen, to answer questions from Charlie Rose, followed by a press Q&A including Facebook's ad chief Carolyn Everson. (Read More: Ad Week 2012: Digital, Display Ads Take Off.)
One thing's for sure: Zuckerberg and his team are taking advantage of the gathering of hundreds of ad industry execs this week to make their pitch. We'll see if it's working when Facebook reports its next quarterly results on Oct. 23.
—By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
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