Facebook marketing VP: How to discover a better way of mobile marketing

The social network's global VP of business marketing talks to CMO about the challenges marketers still face in embracing mobile creative and strategy

Discovery reigns supreme when it comes to engaging consumers via mobile devices, according to Facebook’s global VP of business marketing.

Speaking at the inaugural Facebook IQ event in Sydney on Wednesday, Sarah Personette told industry attendees that applying traditional desktop-based principles of search are not a natural point of entry in a mobile device or app economy.

“If you are applying search principles to this new world order, you are missing out on the people you need to reach in order to move your business forward,” she said.

“Whether it’s discovery of information from your friends, businesses they are connected to, news reporters, entertainers, the mindset is discovery. I don’t know what I’m going to get, and I don’t know what someone did last night. Being able to tap into this mindset and understand how to design and program for it as a brand is a massive shift in marketing.”

Sarah Personette
Sarah Personette


In an age where an emotional connection with consumers is more important than ever, the emphasis needs to be on having a two-way, value-based exchange that taps into the mindset and emotions of a mobile user through relevancy and thumb-stopping creative, Personette said.

“When designing for devices that are so intimate, the value exchange between the brand and person is higher than ever before,” she said. “If you want to find your consumers, people and connect with them, you have to be where they are.”

Facebook now has 11 million Australians active on its platform on a daily basis, with 100 per cent of them active on mobile devices.

As a way of looking at the importance of relevancy in building emotional connections with consumers on mobile, Personette noted brands have historically focused largely on context, such as genre, location, channel or program.

Moving forward, she suggested the key is to adopt a two-tiered approach to marketing that takes into account both the consumer’s ‘mental availability’, and their ‘physical availability’. The concept was developed several years ago by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.

“In terms of mental availability, it’s about making sure you can create top-of-mind awareness during their day, week or year,” she said. “So when the opportunity to purchase presents, your brand breaks through. Another component is saliency and how you resonate so that people remember your brand.

“What I would argue in today’s new world order, where mobile is the primary screen, is that saliency is relevancy.”

Physical availability is about distribution, which has been transformed as a result of the direct-to-consumer capabilities digital and mobile phones present, Personette said. She noted Uber’s ability to combine both mental and physical availability as a key to its success.

Personette also supplied attendees with a checklist on how to improve creativity for mobile-first engagement using insights from recent Facebook and Instagram campaigns. The first piece of advice is to capture attention quickly with engaging visuals, putting the brand front and centre early on.

With the majority of mobile users using their devices with sound turned off, it’s also vital creative tells a story without aural support. In addition, Personette encouraged brands to play more with their creative, testing and learning in order to iterate.

And if you’re not already including mobile as a key channel for your video content, it’s time to run back to your desks and add it in, Personette said. According to Facebook research undertaken in partnership with neuromarketing agency, SalesBrain, video can deliver the same emotional response and level of intensity on mobile as TV. The research on two groups – one exposed first to mobile then TV ads, the other to TV then mobile – found 82 per cent of attention was higher on mobile than TV viewing.

Post-presentation, Personette caught up with CMO to discuss the current state of mobile marketing and where brands are still falling over.

What’s the biggest hurdle you’re still seeing when it comes to getting brands to invest in mobile-first marketing programs?

The first one is believing that the world has actually gone mobile and that’s where their consumers are. It’s always important to set context and the size and scale of that context. People see the world has gone mobile but they don’t necessarily know what to always do with it. That’s why I talk about the numbers. For example, the percentage of mobile video viewership going from less than 1 per cent in 2008 to now over 53 per cent of all viewing happening on mobile in Australia is a significant amount of time spent. If you aren’t using mobile in feeds to connect and engage with your consumers, you’re probably missing them. That’s one thing.

The second thing is some of the myths. One is that the screen is too small. What we found in the neuroscience work we did with SalesBrain is that the mobile screen is not small, it’s actually 2.6 times bigger than the TV screen based on how close it is relative to your eyes. Sometimes, people believe the canvas can be limiting in terms of telling stories creatively. Because video is increasingly the medium inside a feed, I always say to brand marketers that this is your medium of choice. You have been telling beautiful stories through video for decades, now you just have to transition to what that means in a mobile-first environment. That’s one way we’ve tried to conquer the creative myths.

Another thing is always being able to invest in products that provide creative canvases. Whether it’s Instagram Carousel, which is a swipeable ad unit, or Canvas, which allows you to go into a deep journey with a particular brand and enables full-funnel metrics to be achieved, to 360-degree video, where we’re pushing the needle on where you can story a story as a brand advertiser in today’s world.

What metrics need to change in order for marketers to really understand effectiveness through mobile, as well as the emotional connection being built via mobile devices?

As a company, we are laser focused on being able to bring value to the forefront, moving beyond a CPM economy to one that drives real business outcomes. Some of the ways we’re doing that are from an Atlas measurement perspective, making sure you can understand across the whole Internet whether or not your advertising is driving business metrics, inclusive of conversions all the way to top-of-funnel metrics such as brand awareness. We’re also offering the ability to buy and optimise based on your brand metrics, whether it’s awareness optimisation, or conversion optimisation on clicks, mobile app installs, video views, and so on. Those are ways in-product we’re trying to move to more business outcomes.

Our vision for the industry is that it should be entirely value-based. We’re early days in that journey, and we’ve been talking to clients now about what do they really value. And they value growth at the end of the day, whether that’s putting butts on seats, moving product off the shelf, or driving mobile app installs. The evolution of our measurement system will continue to drive towards delivering on those real business outcomes they care about.

A recent piece of research found Australian marketers are still heavily focused on acquisition rather than customer engagement. What you’re saying here is that there are a lot more ways to look at digital advertising and measure it. Are brands mentally ready to embrace that?

There has always been performance on one side, and brand building on the other. We increasingly see a blurring of lines between performance and branding. With Canvas for example, it’s a full-funnel ad unit. You can do everything from driving topline awareness to requests for information to conversion of the customer in that one single experience. As the digital world and in particular, as Facebook leads the idea of full-funnel marketing across our family of apps and services, clients are certainly wanting this, now they’re being met with opportunities to be able to deliver on it. Ten years ago, that wasn’t necessarily the case and it’s why it’s such an important part of how we want to deliver value back to businesses and to people.

One of the things coming up again and again when marketers talk about reaching people at the right time or in real-time, with personalised messaging, is the amount of content that needs to be produced. How do you get clients to overcome that fear or issue around volume of content?

Real-time marketing I think is different from personalised marketing at scale. Real-time marketing is of the moment, what is happening, and developing content or creative in a quick turn in order to be able to deliver it to the right people at the right moment. I’d argue in today’s world, and in particular with the audience insights tools, that you can go deep in understanding how your target and consumer is and develop the right types of content and creative to deliver to them at multiple moments throughout the day or throughout the course of a purchase cycle. That point of distinction is an important.

The second element is how much content you need to create. If I look at the Lexus, which is one of the best examples we have of really personalised marketing at scale, they produced more than 1000 pieces of creative for a mass audience, segmenting them by location, interest, gender and by competitive car they were interested in. Lexus then designed these modules of creatives that were delivered to the right person at the right time in order to break through.

I don’t think 1000 pieces of creative is essentially required every time though. If you understand your audience and you think about certain aspects of segmentation, you can develop a few pieces of creative. This is where test-and-learn comes in. Test so you can learn what works for your particular business, brand or category.

The last part of it is re-editing. I showed an example around Wrigley 5 gum, where with some simple editing techniques, you can optimise for mobile feed and help to stop the thumb from scrolling past. It doesn’t require more money or time. I just did this exercise with my own team for a creative campaign we’re working on and we viewed the creative, looked at it with sound off, to ensure the first 3 seconds to know if people will continue to engage, and if people would know straight away if it’s from Facebook. We went back to the editing room and in about eight more hours, we were able to optimise fully for both Facebook and Instagram feed environments.

I think it’s that slight change in perspective, viewing creative on your mobile phone instead of on a large screen, or with the sound off versus a creative agency pushing up the volume to rock the room.

Test-and-learn is something we all talk about a lot but putting it into practice is another matter. Any tips on how to overcome this fear?

I always like to say start by starting. If people just continue to build creative in the same ways, we’ll never learn how to optimise for a new environment. One example I can give you is from Duncan Fulton, the CMO of Sport Chek, a large retailer in Canada. When our initial findings about the ‘3-second audition’came out, both Duncan and Andrew Robertson from BBDO got together and produced 50 different spots across the catalogue of sports equipment that were animated, interesting, short-form pieces of content that could be targeted to the right people based on their interest denoted by the platform. It was a day-long shoot, they were both onsite, and they just tried. What they ended up learning is that it drove an increase in sales, awareness and purchase intent. It’s as simple as just starting.

It also suggests the relationship between agency and brand owner needs to adjust too.

We’re seeing a lot of creative agencies excited to design for mobile feed, learn what the creative considerations are, and inform us on the creative considerations they’re finding. We have examples of best practices but we’re finding creative agencies introducing a slew of new examples of considerations we should have around mobile feed, which is cool. We’re all learning collectively and together for this new environment.

There are other examples where we work with creative agencies around things like hacking the Canvas platform. We worked with our creative council and 10 of our top agencies to hack through the environment and experience against the specific business requirements of that client. The great news is this is all fun and it actually drives real business results.

Clearly it’s still early days in terms of how targeted brands are getting with their marketing messages today, but could we end up in a situation where we get too personalised and the surprise and delight of something new and unexpected?

The expectation people have towards brands that deliver is very different in a mobile environment. What we strive for first and foremost is to create the most valuable feed experience possible. That means businesses and brands are additive to this experience and there is a beautiful exchange of value. If we get to a point where 100 per cent of all advertising targeted to individuals is exceptionally relevant and personal and valuable, then let’s restart the conversation.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

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