Facebook seeks balanced model for ads

25 July 2012

NEW YORK: Facebook, the social network, is seeking to become "easier to work with" for advertisers, a goal partly resting on striking a balance between consumer privacy and brands' desire for data.

Following its IPO, Facebook is under increasing pressure to boost revenues, an aim most easily achieved through boosting advertising sales, but also relying on retaining the trust of its 900m users.

Having seen General Motors, the carmaker, stop using paid-for ads, proving their worth to clients is thus vital. "We know we have to become easier to work with," Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP, global marketing, told the Financial Times.

Alongside developing a set of guidelines for brands, Facebook is also allocating staff members to work with certain advertisers, like Samsung Mobile USA.

"It's less about the financial commitment than it's about having an incredibly savvy marketer who understands the power of all these things together," Everson said.

"The more that people start to see the power of what can be done, specifically around product launches, I think you'll start to see a better playbook behind all this."

Samsung Mobile USA's campaign, supporting its Galaxy III handset, targeted different messages at users of the iPhone, BlackBerry and Google Android devices, encouraging them to switch handset.

To build on this information, the company also utilised data from the wireless networks carrying the Galaxy III, and deployed posts from the brand pages of AT&T Verizon to offer deals to its fans.

In all, the 65m users exposed to targeted ads doubled the usual engagement rate, and 70m people also saw a "takeover" ad that Samsung Mobile USA ran on Facebook's log out page, a first for any firm.

"That says their data are effective ... This is something we're going to do a lot more of," Brian Wallace, Samsung Mobile USA's VP, strategic marketing, said. "If they're not going to give me the data, they should at least understand my business objectives.

"They're in a tough spot," he added. "They're managing lots of privacy and security concerns, and we're just saying 'gimme, gimme, gimme.' So it's going to take time."

Despite this, however, Wallace suggested fans pages are still the most valuable part of Facebook, allowing it to enhance customer relations, loyalty and retention.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff