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Facebook ad exec thinks we haven't reached mobile devices' potential

A woman checks the Facebook site on her smartphone.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A woman checks the Facebook site on her smartphone.

Though Facebook considers itself a mobile-first company, it isn't done innovating in the space.

"We even believed it for ourselves for a bit that we had completed the shift to mobile," Facebook's vice president of engineering for ads and pages, Andrew "Boz" Bosworth, said to CNBC. "But the shift to mobile is ongoing. There's a real question of 'here's a device I have with me in my pocket, and it should be helping me navigate the whole world around but is it really enough' yet."

Bosworth spoke about the journey Facebook goes through to evolve its products and its mission of creating connectivity during the IAB Mixx Conference in New York on Tuesday.

Facebook started out as a desktop-first platform, he pointed out during the presentation. In 2012, it created a small, dedicated mobile team because of the popularity of the iPhone.

The company soon realized that if it was focusing on connecting people, it had to reallocate its resources to mobile phones, Bosworth said. Every team became responsible for desktop and mobile experiences. Mark Zuckerberg would end a meeting immediately if someone pitched an idea without a mobile solution, he recalled.

Today mobile phones can help us connect to the internet, but it's not adequately connecting us to the physical world around us, Bosworth told CNBC. He believes we haven't tapped into mobile's potential yet.

"Think about live video, which obviously exploded in the last year," he said. "We've been capable of that. We just didn't put it together in a great product yet. Now that we have done that, I think we're seeing the tremendous growth of engagement on that platform."

Other spaces where Facebook can innovate mobile is through making sure when a user sees advertising, it's a faster, seamless process to get to the product or service, Bosworth said. It also involves the industry evolving to make sure that digital content can be delivered even over less reliable internet connections, he added. Facebook announced Tuesday thatit hit 4 million advertisers.

"A lot of these formats need to become responsive and the sites behind that, whether they are mobile sites, apps or built in Facebook Canvas need to be quick and responsive and meet the expectations of consumers to mobile."

Ultimately, the quest to fulfill Facebook's mission of connectivity goes beyond phones, Bosworth said. It's why the company is investing in other technologies like solar-powered internet planes, artificial intelligence and virtual reality device Oculus Rift.

"Mobile phones have been a huge step forward," he said. "Suddenly, not being in close proximity to a desktop computer, you can take all that connection with you, which is fantastic. But there are still so many limitations. Somebody who speaks a different language. ... Somebody who has a disability [like] being blind. We believe we have the tools today to transcend some of those boundaries. We consider it a huge part of their mission to pursue technologies to close some of those gaps."