Facebook’s Zuckerberg Hints At Bigger, More Media-Rich Ad Formats

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A lot of the discussion during Facebook’s earnings conference call today revolved around all the stats that the company offered about the fourth-quarter performance of various ad units. However, Facebook executives also talked (in a very general way) about their ad plans for 2013, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying that the company will be both improving its ad targeting and launching new formats.

Asked what kinds of formats we can expect, Zuckerberg pointed to what he said is one of the company’s longtime design principles: “We want the organic content to be of the same basic type of format as paid content.” Advertisers, meanwhile, usually want “really rich things like big pictures.”

There’s a tension there — in fact, this is a constant theme from Facebook employees who argue that traditional advertisers need to adjust their thinking to build campaigns that work on Facebook, rather than demanding that Facebook copy existing ad formats. The big ad on the logout page is Facebook’s main concessions on this front.)  However, Zuckerberg said that the company has been incorporating “bigger pictures, richer media” in the news feed, so it makes sense for ads to follow suit.

He also pointed to Facebook-acquired Instagram as a product that includes an immersive mobile experience, and he said he wants to “offer those abilitites for advertising as well, so you can deliver much more engaging advertising experiences.”

Later in the call, COO Sheryl Sandberg answered a question about whether Facebook will be offering more analytics tools to large ad agencies. She said she’s happy with the progress Facebook has made thus far, which to a large extent involves convincing advertisers that “the click is not really the most important metric for us.” After all, she said an ad on Facebook might convince people to make a purchase in-store, but they might not click on the ad at all. That’s why Facebook is working on different studies to track the effectiveness of its ads beyond the click. Sandberg said she those efforts are “really early,” so we can probably expect more announcements on that front in the coming months.

Facebook Q4 2012 Earnings