2013 challenges: Liam Walsh

2013 challenges: Liam Walsh

Liam Walsh, director of sales and commercial development at Facebook Australia and NZ, shares the challenges facing Facebook in 2013

Facebook is a place where brands and agencies can put people at the centre of their campaigns and leverage the power of social endorsement. Facebook has achieved tremendous scale and engagement: in 2012, we reached the milestone of one billion users globally – this represents a tremendous opportunity in 2013 for those marketers who integrate social in to their campaigns.

And as people change their entertainment and consumption habits, Facebook continues to innovate to create more value for advertisers. In 2013, our focus is to take advantage of the opportunity that mobile presents, to continue to offer marketers tailored ad products that addresses their business needs, and to demonstrate the return that their investment on social marketing delivers.

Just one example of the many successes that countless companies are enjoying on Facebook comes from the recent Eventbrite Global Social Commerce report, which found that every time someone shares an event on Facebook, it drives on average an additional $4.15 back to the event organisers.

Over 600 million people who use Facebook are connecting from a mobile device. Mobile is one of the big trends we see for marketing as we start 2013. Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr is calling this trend ‘SoLoMo’ (social:local:mobile), as mobile lets you be active at any location and connected to your entire social graph for their opinions, advice and buying power.


Mobile is a huge area of growth. At Facebook, our goal is to connect everyone in the world. The US research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics recently calculated that there are more than one billion smartphones in use worldwide, but forecast that the next billion would be achieved in less than three years. The shift to mobile shifts consumer habits.

On Facebook, people who use our mobile services are more active than people who only use our desktop services. On average, mobile users are around 20% more likely to use Facebook on any given day.

To empower marketers to take advantage of this opportunity, we launched sponsored stories on mobile in this year. These fit naturally into the way people use mobile news feed today.  We think the best experience for people and marketers is one that fits into the existing user experience, versus ads that interrupt the user experience.  ‚Äã

Our clients are already seeing strong initial results, with strong cost-per-impression and cost-per-click rates.

New ad products

We are constantly looking at ways to improve the suite of our advertising products for all types of advertisers, along with ways to make the advertising experience as relevant as possible for people on Facebook. Over the past few months we have launched a number of products that make it easier for marketers to reach the right people at the right time. Given that Facebook is based on real identity, we are uniquely positioned to allow marketers to layer the information they already have on to our targeting tools to create ads that are more interesting to people and perform better for marketers. We do this in a way that respects user privacy.

Our new audience targeting feature is an effective new tool for advertisers to reach their customers on Facebook and leads to more relevant ads for people who already have relationships with advertisers. Advertisers are able to use their existing customer information (in a hashed format) to create custom audiences for Facebook ad targeting. So for example, a business may want to get current customers to become fans of its Page so it can create long-term loyalty and engagement.

Another exciting new ad product offering is Ads on Log Out. In Australia, two million Australians log-out of Facebook every day. Ads on Log Out presents the opportunity to show a rich and compelling ad at this time. This new ad format gives marketers an expanded creative platform to engage people at the completion of their current Facebook session. 

In Australia, Nissan promoted its launch of their first electric car – the Nissan Leaf – on Facebook using the logout experience and saw a 22% product awareness uplift from its core audience on Facebook as a result.

Delivering value

We are continuing to work with brands to tie traditional offline metrics (reach, resonance, reaction) more closely to online metrics and to Facebook. We believe there is a bigger body of metrics that brands care about, beyond click-through rates, and Facebook as a medium can serve those brand marketers effectively. If your goal is to sell products online, clicks are a good indicator, but if you care more about generating interest in a brand and ultimately achieving offline sales, you need a better metric than the click-through rate.

We are also working to identify ways to measure offline sales generated from social campaigns run on the site. Initial results indicate that 70% of campaigns get an offline return on investment of three times or higher and 49% get a return of five times or greater. Going into 2013, we are excited about the potential to continue to demonstrate the value that social marketing delivers for all marketers.

Recent comScore research found that using earned and paid together works. In the four weeks after seeing the US retailer Target messages on Facebook, Target fans and their friends overall bought at Target 21% more frequently. In the four weeks after seeing an ad on Facebook from a major US offline retailer, fans and their friends overall bought 16% more frequently in store than the average Internet user. And they bought 56% more frequently online from this retailer.

Marketers also care about reaching the right customers. On Facebook, where people are their real selves and share likes and interests, targeting is very accurate. Nielsen’s Online Ratings, which standardises online reach with TV reach, shows that general online campaigns with a broad target (e.g. adults 18-54) are on-target 72% of the time and narrow target only 35% of the time.  For comparison, Facebook is at greater than 95% on broad targets and greater than 90% on narrow targets. 

All of this adds up to a one billion opportunity that is ripe for the taking.

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