Facebook Still Doesn't Get Marketing

On its first quarterly earnings call, Facebook left it to Sheryl Sandberg to talk about how the company makes most of its money: marketing. And I was encouraged by how much she discussed the topic and how Sheryl stressed over and over the importance of proving ROI to advertisers. But I remain deeply unconvinced that Facebook can give marketers what they need, for two reasons:

  1. Facebook thinks it can prove value in generalities. When Sheryl says she recognizes the importance of proving ROI to advertisers, she means that Facebook is trying to prove that Facebook marketing can work for advertisers in general — not that it does work for any one advertiser in particular. Facebook’s efforts here to date have been in generating a handful of case studies to which it can point: "Look! Facebook marketing worked for these three advertisers! That means it works!" But marketers don’t need proof that some Facebook marketing programs work; they need proof that their Facebook marketing program works. Better yet, they need to know which of their tactics are working and which aren't so that they can learn and improve. That would require better metrics for all marketers, rather than just a handful of case studies from a few marketers.
  2. Facebook is still talking about advertising rather than marketing. Marketers don’t care about Facebook’s paid ads nearly as much as they care about the site’s branded pages. But Facebook doesn’t make any money from branded pages; it only makes money from paid ads. The result? A fundamental disconnect. Facebook simply doesn’t care much what happens after an ad is shown or clicked upon. So when Sheryl talks about "improving value for advertisers" and "proving ROI," she’s trying to improve the value of, and prove the ROI of, the thing that matters least to most Facebook marketers. But if she doesn't make those branded pages work better for marketers, soon the effectiveness of the ads that drive users to those pages may become a moot point.

So I’m excited to hear Facebook talking more about marketing than ever before; I just wish what Facebook was saying actually solved marketers’ needs. There’s always next quarter, I guess.


Facebook Marketing

Hi Nate!
I very much appreciated your comment on Facebook Marketing, since I think that it's a very important topic too often neglected or "simply" forgotten.
I think though that Facebook should enhance its communication in terms of "how" it can help advertisers in making important communication choices based on the information they can get through it, rather than stressing its capability as a marketing tool.
facebook maybe or not a powerful marketing tool in itself, but it does provide tons of important data and feedbacks about your products, your consumer's behaviuor etc. it remains up to the Companies' managers to find then a suitable Communication strategy based on that important bunch of information.
I get your point in terms of capability of Facebook to make money out of the advertising campaigns. Maybe they will be able to proof rentability in other, more subtle, ways linked to the infographic power they have.
Just my very personal opinion!

Couldn't agree more. Thanks,

Couldn't agree more. Thanks, Nate. Achieving reach with our current Facebook audience has been challenging since the switch to timeline. Clearly, Facebook has created a system that relies heavily on their paid ads and the ability to achieve organic reach has been diminished.

I think beyond EVERYTHING,

I think beyond EVERYTHING, Facebook is simply a social vehicle, and blending social and commercial is not easy.

Behavioralists will tell you when we go to the beach, we leave our wallets locked in the car. At times we simply want to turn off our consumer mode. Facebook is the beach, to me. They're going to have problems just like the NY Times continually has problems.