Facebook is holding its first big event for advertisers today in New York, which it’s calling the fMC (Facebook Marketing Conference). Executives Sheryl Sandberg, Chris Cox, David Fischer, and Mike Hoefflinger are all scheduled to take the stage during the keynote address starting at 1pm Eastern — I’ll be liveblogging it here, while Josh Constine covers the big announcements in separate posts.
To set the stage, here are some relevant stats from eMarketer: Facebook’s share of the US display market increased to 14 percent in 2011, and the research firm predicts that its ad revenue will reach $7.64 in 2014. eMarketer says Facebook passed Yahoo last year to become the biggest display ad seller in the United States — but Google’s growth puts it on-track to pass Facebook in 2013.
You can watch the keynote livestream here.
10:08am Pacific: Sheryl Sandberg takes the stage. She says the American Museum of Natural History was chosen as the location to encourage attendees to “think big.” Now we’re starting the obligatory anecdotes about the life-changing power of Facebook — including a discussion of the role that Facebook played in the Arab Spring.
10:13am: The Internet used to be anonymous, but now “even dogs can have real identity on the Internet.” Sandberg also talks about how old she is compared to Facebook employees — they often want to show her things because they want to know “what old people think.” “There are people who don’t know what a card catalog is, and I’ve chosen to work with all of them.”
10:15am: Sandberg cites the famous Warhol quote about everyone being famous for 15 minutes. “Today every one of us can have the power of voice … and when we find something that the world responds to, we can sustain that voice. The result is that the old rules no longer apply.” “The difference now is that so many people can have voice at scale. … This levels traditional hierarchy. We have less broadcasting, more conversations.”
10:17am: Sandberg says technology strengthens our connections, rather than isolating us. “In the world before Facebook, I would have had a different relationship [with my parents].” Technology has divided her from her parents, by allowing them to live in Florida while she lives in Silicon Valley, but also brought them closer together, since she can share her photos of her children every day.
10:19am: Sandberg now taking about how Facebook changes politicians’ and celebrities’ relationship with others, leading to greater transparency. And yes, that includes companies’ relationships with their customers. She talks about how existing online ad models still follow the offline model of “talking at their customers,” which no longer works. “They want to be a full part of the conversation.”
10:22am: Sandberg now talking about Facebook as a partner company. “As social media transforms different industries, we’re not doing it. We provide technology that enables others to do it.” Uses gaming as an example of how partners like Zynga and Electronic Arts led the way. When marketing becomes “truly social, it won’t be us, it will be you.”
10:25am: VP of Product Chris Cox takes the stage. Starts talking about how, when he showed up for a job interview, he didn’t think Facebook was a serious company. When he arrived, Dustin Moskovitz gave him a “super-visionary” pitch on what Facebook could be “when it grows up.” Cox returns to the idea that the first Facebook profile was supposed to represent the first five minutes of a conversation with someone you meet: Don’t think of each piece of a profile as a field of data, but rather “connective tissue.” Over time, the profile would become more and more powerful as a storytelling platform, providing more and more minutes of that conversation.
10:29am: Citing media theorist Marshall McLuhan, Cox says the one thing we can count on is the dramatic growth of people who have access to the full “corpus” of published content and to publishing tools. Over time, content in the news feed (a personalized, social newspaper) is becoming more and more meaningful. Then he talks about how social features can change people how consume media.
10:38am: Facebook’s vision is for every users’ interaction with brands to be “just as awesome, just as fast, just as rich” as it is with their friends and family. Then Cox introduces Hoefflinger to actually make some announcements. Hoefflinger uses the example of a razor company like Gillette to talk about how Facebook is returning brands to a more personal model, where they have a relationship with their customers.
10:40am: “We are moving from ads to stories.” “Lots of ads add up to noise. Lots of stories are how we build our relationships.” We’re only using ads because we couldn’t build enough “connections” to tell stories on the scale that large brands need. Now that’s changing, thanks to Facebook.
10:43am: Hoefflinger talks about adding Timeline to business Pages, as we wrote about earlier today. Examples like Kia and Macy’s.
10:45am: People can now message brands directly on their Page, allowing those brands to develop that one-on-one relationship. There’s also a new story type on Pages called “offers” — you can probably guess what it is. “We’ve made it one-click easy to share.” And if you’re a company whose “stories” are fictional, Facebook can help you too. Hoefflinger offers the example of Will Smith’s production company using Timeline to promote the upcoming After Earth franchise.
10:48am: “This is your opportunity to express your identity on Facebook … and the launchpad for the stories you will tell.” When you publish on your page you’re going to reach 16 percent of your fans, on average. Facebook announces a new product called Reach Generator. It’s supposed to help brands ensure that fans see their stories, moving the “little stories” to the front page of Facebook, helping brands engage with 75 percent of their fans on average.
10:52am: Ben & Jerry was able to reach 98 percent of fans and got a 3-to-1 ROI with Reach Generator. Dr. Pepper and Butterfinger were also early partners. Hoefflinger now talks about “Premium on Facebook,” billed as “the most impactful way” to distribute your content, starting today. Stories created through Premium on Facebook will be eligible for placement in the Facebook newsfeed — and that includes mobile. Facebook has been testing this already, and seen a 5 or 10x increase in clickthrough rates.
10:58am: Another new ad placement area — the logout screen. It will be available in April.
11:01am: “If we’re in a transition from ads to stories, Premium on Facebook is the best way to get your stories in front of more people more often.”
11:03am: Introduces David Fischer to offer a closer look at how brands are using the new ad products. “We’re all marketers, but we’re consumers too.” Lead-in to showing off the Pages for his local gym and Starbucks. The question for all marketers: “How do we engage [our customers], how do we engage their friends?”
11:06am: Fischer joined by executives from Wal-Mart, Aegis Media, and 1-800-Flowers. Wal-Mart marketing executive says he had hoped he could retire without having to figure out social, but clearly that’s not the case. Says you have to have a team devoted to social.
11:10am: Aegis executive says it’s about being clear about what you want to see and making a sustained effort. As an example, he talks about Uniqlo’s efforts to celebrate fans, rather than just promoting products. Also talks about P&G doing campaign targeted at the Special Olympics.
11:13am: 1-800-Flowers exec says talks about how changes in consumer behavior are driven by technology. “We look at social commerce now as a fourth major wave.”
11:16am: Aegis executive: Ad industry needs an “absolutely radical transformational change”, in terms of talent and organizational design. “We had to rip down all the silos.” Organizations need to be more collaborative, allowing specialists to work across different disciplines. “It’s really tough, it’s difficult, but unless our industry grapples that,” we’re not going to be able to satisfy clients. 1-800 Flowers exec: “Well, you can do all that, or you can just hire everyone under the age of 30.”
11:20am: Wal-Mart executive: “We’re kind of going back to the future.” Customers and partners expect retailers to be a part of the community. Aegis executive: “There is a massive opportunity around really transforming the whole economic model.” With social data, companies can predict what people want.
11:22am: 1-800-Flowers: “Any brand is nothing but a manifestation of the stories that are told about the brand.” Aegis: Now we can stop thinking of them as customers and consumers, and instead as people.
11:25am: Closing video. Mark Zuckerberg: “Businesses will be more successful and better in a more connected and open world.” Lots of customer stories with the same message — No, seriously, consumers actually like interacting with brands. “Imagine the stories you’ll create.”
11:29am: And that’s it! Thanks for reading.
Check out the rest of our Facebook Marketing Conference coverage:
Facebook Opens Timeline To All Biz Pages, Mandatory After 30 Days Of Curation