What, in your view, are the key media and marketing trends set to shape 2019?
Undoubtedly the rise of messaging as the dominant way people want to communicate with businesses is going to be the biggest trend that we see in 2019.
Messaging has now reached such a scale that it should now be viewed as a new medium; just as businesses have a search team, a social media team and an AV team, they will need a messaging team to get real value from the medium. Messaging, in all its forms, needs to form a strategic part of the business and not be used tactically. Saying, “I’ve tried using Messenger or WhatsApp and it doesn’t work for my business,” is the same as saying I've tried the internet and it doesn’t work in 1997.
It has been a seismic 12 months, both for Facebook and the wider industry. How are client demands evolving?
Among advertisers, the single biggest developments this year have been around transparency and how our industry protects peoples' information while showing them relevant ads. This is such a vital subject right now, and I'll come back to it later, but it's important to say those two things aren’t at odds – we can do both.
The other big theme of the last year that I've seen emerge for clients is the desire for effectiveness and simplification. Brands are faced with so many options in terms of how they reach consumers. It can be a massive challenge to navigate and to weigh up the pros and cons of each opportunity. I believe brands want simple advice, ways of evaluating what works and the ability to compare across channels. The digital industry often hides behind complex terminology and we need to help clients understand what effective digital marketing looks like, and we have to make it easy for this to be implemented.
What have been the most important changes to Facebook’s ad offering over the same period?
We build for people first and this principle informs the marketing solutions and products that we create. We do this because ad experiences that are valuable for people deliver value for businesses as well. That's why people's behaviours are the starting points for everything we build.
One area in particular that is now delivering value for businesses is in-stream video. While still in the early stages, this really is a significant development from our offering – many brands want to ensure a certain duration of video is watched with sound, and in-stream allows us to deliver this for advertisers. The launches of Watch globally and IGTV in 2018 indicate how video continues to evolve on our platforms, and the changing nature of video content within our ecosystem. I'm hugely excited for how video is evolving on Facebook.
WARC’s Toolkit 2019 survey showed brands are increasingly confident in short-form video as a means of delivering marketing outcomes. How are you seeing brands using the format on Facebook?
I'm not surprised to hear that brands are embracing short-form video as part of the wider video mix, we see this first hand with clients at Facebook.
Think about how you engage with video throughout the day. What you want to take from watching a video of your friend's holiday on Facebook Stories is probably different from what you seek to experience watching Netflix after dinner. Where TV advertising used to mean three things – either a 10, 30 or 60 second spot – digital video and mobile lie on a spectrum: quick and bite-sized at one end, when they are in discovery mode throughout their day, and deliberate and longer at the other end, when there's time and attention for longer consumption. Brands now understand that what people expect to achieve in these experiences naturally differs.
On the shorter form, discovery side, people come to feed environments and Stories to connect with friends, family, celebrities and brands. They're looking to discover the latest and get inspired, informed or entertained. Consequently, brands that are succeeding are approaching these moments with a different mind-set, and are achieving success by matching the message to what people expect from an experience, building ads catered to their audience's viewing behaviours, and evaluating that impact by measuring performance based on where their ad is shown.
We’re living in a post-GDPR world. Are you seeing a shift in the way that brands are using data to create and target audiences?
One of the key areas of focus for brands in the last 12 months, and which will absolutely continue into the immediate future, is the demand for transparency. This requirement to be more transparent with how consumer data is used for advertising is paramount to our industry as a whole, and needs a concerted effort across the industry.
We're taking strong steps to better protect data privacy, which is core to Facebook's family of apps. For GDPR, we have not only ensured our services comply with GDPR, we've also made all the same controls and settings available everywhere around the world. We've actually been hugely focused on transparency around advertising for a number of years, for example by allowing consumers to see why they are being targeted within an ad. These controls have always existed; but this past year has made it clear we need to do way more by taking more action to explain and provide controls to people.
When brands understand the controls we provide to consumers, and they are confident in the transparency and choices we provide, they continue to see the value that our platform can unlock for them. We absolutely can protect people's information and show people them relevant ads at the same time, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Do you think 2019 will be the year the industry gets on top of the challenges that have been spooking advertisers, from viewability concerns to ad fraud and brand safety?
I'm buoyant for the year ahead, both for Facebook and the industry as a whole. We're seeing increased collaboration and alignment on key issues of all kinds for advertisers, such as the IAB UK's Gold Standard of which we are a supporter, although there is of course always scope to go further. We're taking a leadership position in these areas also, whether that's our efforts to provide advertisers on our platforms with the insights and third-party verification from over 40 partners they need to understand the impact of their ads, or a range of controls to ensure brand safety, including block lists to remove specific publishers and apps from ad delivery, and the ability to exclude brand-sensitive content categories from ads across Facebook in-stream videos, Instant Articles and Audience Network. We know how important these topics are to advertisers on our platforms, and we'll continue to build more capabilities to offer choice, control and evaluation of their campaigns.
Whilst there is more that is being done to address the challenges of our industry, this year I also want to see the digital ecosystem deliver some big bold brand campaigns. There has never been a better time to have a big idea. The biggest marketing idea of all time happened in 2018 in Nike and Colin Kaepernick, and, guess what, the biggest idea of all time will almost certainly happen again in 2019 as the world continues to get more connected and its easier for ideas to spread. If marketers can come up with big ideas that are exciting and worth sharing they are not limited by geography or indeed media spend, their ideas can take off and travel around the world impacting culture – or even just making people smile as KFC and 'FCK!' continues to make me do so.
If together as an industry we act responsibly, continue to help people to understand how their data is used and protected, focus on great creative, have more members of The Coalition for Better Ads and take a people-first approach there’s every reason to think our industry can enter 2020 having created as much value for people as we did advertisers.