What’s On

As a company, we reprioritised our business from ‘mobile first’ to ‘mobile best’: Dan Neary, Facebook APAC

Dan Neary, Facebook

Facebook’s ‘mobile best’ strategy has seen the company take various new initiatives – two key steps in the last few weeks being Facebook’s decision to introduce #hashtags in its conversations and the enabling of 15-second videos in its Instagram service. The platform that is said to have defined the social media space, spends significant time in understanding consumer behaviour. In a conversation with DMA, Dan Neary, Vice President (Asia Pacific), Facebook discusses why mobile is the key word for everything in the future, the achievement of one million active advertisers on Facebook, the company’s initiatives to engage marketers and what competition in the space now means.

APAC has proved to be an important growth market for social media and Facebook is one of the examples quoted to make this point. What are the trends that Facebook is seeing in consumer behaviour in the various APAC markets that you think will define the social media space in the near future?
The way people consume information is changing considerably. We’ve seen a change from traditional media sources to a mixed hybrid of both online and offline sources. Consumers are spending more time on Facebook than almost any other site across both desktop and mobile. We’re also seeing a lot of conversations happening online, with Facebook being the main platform for users to engage and provide a share of voice on their thoughts and be able to solicit their friends’ opinion by creating polls and asking questions.

Mobile is the way to go. As a company, we reprioritised our business from mobile first to a mobile best company. We centered all our development and apps around mobile. With the increase in mobile penetration which is especially high in this part of the world, there is a change in the way people are accessing social media like Facebook. People are accessing Facebook on their mobile phones, whether feature or smart phones.

This behavioural change represents a new way for pages to engage with users – one of the things that we’ve seen happen is Facebook being ranked as the third most popular activity on iPhones and Android phones, behind email and web browsing globally.

But now there is new competition emerging just about every week with the growth in the media landscape – as the lines between various media blur, where would you say competition to players such as FB is coming from?
The number of players in the social networking space has expanded exponentially in the last five years. As a leader in this space, we are constantly innovating to stay ahead of the competition and deliver products that enable our users to stay more connected. A week ago, we launched #Hashtags for Facebook as a way for businesses and people to keep track of public conversations that they’re interested in. We feel that we’re going in the right direction as we’ve just celebrated, on June 19, 2013, our one millionth active advertisers on Facebook.

Before we can discuss more on the advertiser activity on Facebook, would you say that enhanced competition in the space may see the collaboration between social media players reduce?
While I am not in the position to comment on our competitors’ strategy around partnerships, I can say that establishing partnerships is a strategy that is core to Facebook. We work closely with partners across the segments and verticals for eg so that we can deliver a full experience for our users on Facebook.

Congratulations on the one million active advertisers on Facebook. There is a lot that Facebook seems to be doing to keep marketers engaged. What are some of the initiatives that you have taken that you think are delivering the desired results for that community?
We have recently streamlined/simplified our ads products to half to make it easier for businesses to leverage Facebook, with the key ones being Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts – marketers will start to see these streamlined changes to our ads solutions in the coming weeks and months.

Facebook has created a number of tools which marketers can utilise and benefit from. For example, Facebook Pages gives the brand a more personal voice and it helps marketers to cut down the ‘distance and barriers’ between a fan and a brand. What that means for marketers on Facebook is that it allows them to tap into that behaviour by adding social context and shows people’s interactions with their business’s to their friends.

Facebook helps advertisers to achieve their goals through targeted reach, deeper engagement and proven results. We enable targeted reach by measuring outcomes based on the number of people who saw a brand’s message, who they are and how often. Online campaigns with a broad target (e.g. adults 18-54) are on-target 72 per cent of the time and narrow target (e.g. female adults 18-28) only 35 per cent of the time. For comparison, Nielsen shows that Facebook is at more than 95 per cent on broad targets, and more than 90 per cent on narrow targets. We have seen that campaigns on Facebook that focus on reach drive on average 70 per cent higher ROI; Nielsen Online Campaigns Ratings helps advertisers manage to reach online.

For deeper engagement, we partnered with Nielsen to show that our ads are not only seen but also remembered. Studies of over 79 Facebook ad campaigns show that on average, ads with a social element generate greater than 50 per cent lift in ad recall versus non-social ads. This is not surprising since people are more likely to remember a message that comes from a friend.

And we have demonstrated proven results. We recognise that ad reach or targeting and recall is important, and they are the first steps in delivering results for marketers. Marketers would want to know, ‘after people see my campaign, does it drive them to buy?’

In the region, some brands that have benefited from being on Facebook include the likes of Ocean Park Hong Kong, Telstra Australia and Scoot Singapore.

How have markets in APAC assisted Facebook in growing, and where do you see this evolution head to? Simply put, what will we see from Facebook in days to come, more specific to APAC markets?
Mobile continues to be a key focus for us because of the tremendous opportunities and growth in this area. We will continue to create a more personal, immersive experience on the mobile.

People spend more time on Facebook than in any other mobile app on iOS or Android. We also know people want to see what their friends are up to, pictures they’ve shared, messages they’ve sent, etc. There are 10 billion Facebook messages sent every day around the world and 350 million photos get uploaded to Facebook every day around the world. And they want to be able to do this right away – without unlocking a home screen or multi-tasking between apps. Facebook Home is our answer to that – it’s your personal experience delivered to you via key features such as Cover Feed, Chat Heads and the App Launcher.

Facebook Home is one of the examples of our focus on that mobile strategy which we hope will transform the way millions of people use their mobile device to engage with each other and with brands.

Facebook is a global community and we want to continue to grow the community by building the best experiences across all mobile devices and platforms.