Facebook Wants to Empower Advertisers, More than Users

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Newport Beach, CA

Despite all the prattle about large Silicon Valley Internet-driven companies battling to dominate the shift to autonomous electric vehicles, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg told the Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona, Spain, that Facebook won’t build cars. Rather, he said, the company is focused on actively championing mobile advertising, which is shifting how companies approach their brand marketing strategies.

Dubbed “The Edge of Innovation,” the fourth annual gathering of the mobile world’s movers and shakers surpassed all projections with a record-breaking 93,000+ attendees from 200 countries. The conclave featured 40 conference break-out sessions with speeches from the most iconic leaders among mobile organizations, consumer brand advertisers, entertainment celebrities and academics.

Keynote speakers included: Ralph de la Vega, CEO, AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions; Francisco González, Chairman and CEO, BBVA; Timotheus Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom; Hans Vestberg, CEO, Ericsson; Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman and CEO, Huawei; Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel; Ajay Banga, CEO, MasterCard; Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault-Nissan Alliance; Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone; and Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia.

Facebook and IAB.net launched the congress with a full-day conference dedicated to mobile marketing and advertising. The move was a dramatic departure from the three prior congresses that focused exclusively on technology and innovation. Zuckerberg emphasized four over-arching trends in mobile:

  1. Social media is now part of most people’s lives, as social platforms are increasingly being used as media platforms, forcing most brands to reorient advertising to focus on mobile. A recent Business Insider report highlighted that Facebook boasts 1.2 billion users and mobile advertising accounts for 69 percent of the social network’s revenues. Facebook’s Atlas Solutions is a game changer for cross-screen advertising platforms because its vast amount of logged-in data is enabling advertisers to plan campaigns across screens, as well as directly link them to retail store sales. More people now own a mobile device than a toothbrush, and mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2014. Thanks to video, mobile is now 22 percent of Internet consumption.
  2. Fragmentation of social attention is accelerating as new social channels entrants like Yik Yak and Snapchat, which provide dedicated messaging apps, are growing the “dark social,” where user behavior is not entirely transparent. With dark social now accounting for 70 percent of all sharing activity, the ability for marketers to develop tools to analyze this activity is in major demand.
  3. Cross-channel attribution will finally become a realistic proposition. With more than 40 percent of average consumers using multiple devices on a daily basis, spending on mobile advertising is increasing. Yet it has not kept pace with total mobile media consumption, because of the lack of ad-tech tools to track “full stack solutions.”
  1. Data-driven creativity means greater personalization. Lindsay Pattison, CEO of Maxus Worldwide stated: “The notion that creativity hasn’t been cracked on mobile – I find that depressing.”

Data-driven creativity is important in delivering the sort of experiences that will resonate with audiences, and deliver deeper brand engagement. Programmatic – the process of buying and selling media in an automated, data-driven fashion – makes it possible for advertisers to deliver relevant personalized messaging on a massive scale.

Zuckerman acknowledged that Facebook is experimenting with new technologies to grow its user base that involve drones and satellites. But he emphasized that the real battle in social media is about what company can best empower the advertisers, rather than users.