Aspire to help brand partners achieve their objectives: Sandeep Bhushan, Facebook

Director, Facebook – India and South Asia, talks about Facebook’s offerings to several brands & advertisers that help them achieve their desired objective be it brand imagery or brand sales

e4m by Apeksha Mishra
Updated: Oct 4, 2018 2:29 PM

Advertisers and marketers continue to invest and increase ad spends on Facebook. The reason being that the platform provides them with a number of different ad formats starting from lead ads, dynamic product ads, carousal ads, stamp ad, canvas ad, slideshow ads to video ads, through which they can focus on their target ad sets efficiently.

exchange4media spoke with Sandeep Bhushan, Director, Facebook India and South Asia, who also leads the Global Marketing Solutions (GMS) teams in India and South Asia, about Facebook’s offerings to several brands and advertisers that help them achieve their desired objective, be it brand imagery or brand sales. 
Edited excerpts:

What kind of advertising works best for brands on Facebook?

Facebook at the core is a community of people where users get to connect with family, friends, communities, and follow trends. It allows advertisers to reach our users very quickly. Given this construct, Facebook has spent time making ad products to help advertisers achieve their objectives. Facebook works better than any other platform because of its real identity trait where one can reach out to a person perfectly as per the frequency desired by the advertiser. Hence, real identity, perfect sequencing, frequency and the scale of a large number of Indians sets up a marketing engine and a support system like none existed before.

In this context when we work with businesses, we engage with brands focusing on one variable which is ‘Value created’. Value happens on two-dimensions, one being brand imagery and the other is brand sales. Facebook products are able to achieve both because of the power of outreach, perfect targeting and perfect scale.

We also measure the value of both these dimensions. Therefore, we report back brand imagery lift or sales lift with various tools and our third party partnership like that with Nielsen. Hence, the core of how we go to market includes three factors: improve imagery, improve sales and have a feedback report built on it.

Have all the recent controversies about fake news, fake traffic etc impacted brand spending on Facebook?

It’s an ongoing debate as to what quality of information one should act on and what should be ignored. However, consumer engagement on our platform continues to grow. At Facebook we shall continue to push two agendas - one being privacy and the other regarding usage of right contents on the platform. On the advertiser side, the conversation continues to be as to how can we create and prove value for businesses. Brand owners are interested in knowing if their investment resulted in good returns or not, to which the answer is a resounding Yes. We have a long-standing partnership of trust with our advertisers. The advertising community in general has been very appreciative of the changes that we've been introducing and all the communication that we've been doing since past few months about the same. We completely believe that targeted advertising and privacy can co-exist. We just have to raise the bar of educating our consumers and giving them control on their advertising experience with respect to their own personal data. Our consumers are aware of that and businesses are confident. Advertisers continue to see tremendous value and know there is no material consumer difference on the platform.

How has money spending on Facebook shifted in the last one year? As for money being spent on Facebook posts, is it more on videos now or any other medium?

Facebook algorithm will constantly change to get best value for a consumer’s time, to be able to participate in meaningful social interactions. For consumers to spend more time on the platform we focus on curating one’s feed with right content as per the interest area.

We understand that video is the most pervasive way consumers are interacting today. Video is not just about a 30 min, 3 min or a 3 sec worth content but in fact much wider than that. For instance, when you go Facebook live, you are broadcasting potentially to 2 billion people, that’s the kind of impact a video has. It is about recognising how consumers behave differently in the context of videos. We believe our video products will continue to be most engaging, as they are in line with where the consumer is shifting to. Within each of these videos, advertising is a possibility.

How is Facebook helping brands organise themselves for digital success?

I believe all consumers that matter today are on mobile. For instance, Facebook has more than 217 million monthly active users in India. NCCS ABC in this country is smaller than that, which means the consuming class in urban India is entirely on mobile. This presents a huge opportunity for us to help brands and advertisers in reaching out to their audience.

Additionally, we need to measure and find out if communication on platforms like Facebook and Instagram work. According to Millward Brown’s Meta study last year, which included several cross media platforms, where they measured the impact of TV, Facebook etc., Facebook was proven to be the most cost efficient medium for Brand Motivation (Consideration + Purchase Intent) against TV, other digital platforms and certainly against print and outdoor.

Finally, brands also need to understand the tools that marketers and advertisers need now to win. One way is by being creative and the other is investing in media planning. Studies such as that of Millward Brown can help us decide the percentage allocation between TV, print and outdoor mediums. Therefore the readiness for brands will be on two dimensions - a brand’s planning technique in various channels and the right creative for each of those channels.

What is the current split between growing mobile and desktop ad revenue in India? With the evolving figures how will Facebook engage with brands to set them up for success?

Consumer time in India is virtually entirely mobile across every platform. Therefore, advertising dollar will chase consumer time. When we talk about brands, their focus is to connect with more consumers be it through Facebook or any other platform.

On Facebook, bulk of user time is spent on mobile, and we are focused on building advertising for mobile. However, we also have the ability to deliver a certain kind of video ad type for desktops exclusively. For example, in a situation where a desktop is connected to a wi-fi connection and mobile is on 2G, we can customise and separately deliver two different kinds of advertising to the same consumer, but then it’s inconsequential as users are more mobile-friendly, because today, digital means mobile.

What is Facebook's revenue aspiration from ad sales in India? What are the key drivers that will help you achieve it?

Our revenue numbers are disclosed in our quarterly reports continent wise and not as per region. Our aspiration is that we want to partner brands as our reach allows us to help them deliver any objective they aim at. This starting from brand knowledge, brand awareness to brand love and then finally sales. Small businesses too avail our platform for their growth.

Today likes & shares can be bought and fiddled with, how do you ensure you have a pure measurement metric to record the correct data while you engage with brands?

When we speak of business outcomes we do not think of likes & shares. 95 per cent of consumers might not have ‘liked’ a share but must have received the brand’s message. While evaluating story readership on a website, reaction is only a few percentage point of people who have actually read the story. We partner with third party bodies like Nielsen to measure the impact on brand imagery to those who saw the ad v/s to those who did not. Nielsen measures the difference and is therefore able to say that because of Facebook advertising the brand moved up.

We also engage in complicated and sophisticated studies for e.g. Global First wherein Nielsen goes to retail and picks up sales data every week for brands that are advertising, and then reports back on whether advertising on Facebook impacted sales or not. Whatever be the business objective, our aim primarily is to ensure that we deliver the content correctly to the right audience and then we work on various measurements with partners to figure out what’s the best result.

With the growing user base for Instagram, how does Facebook per se position itself to brands?

An Instagram consumer has a higher socio-economic classification. However, as an advertiser one doesn’t have to choose between the two platforms. Facebook can efficiently find where the consumer is and accordingly showcase the brand to that particular group. User’s identity is the same on both platforms and to use that advertisers don’t really have to make a choice.

How is Facebook planning to increase its user base in India, especially when we speak about tier II cities?

Facebook globally works with the vision of helping build communities for everyone. We can’t build communities if we aren’t available to people living worldwide. We have various programs to be at the edge of connectivity and will remain to be part of such efforts globally. In a scenario where Jio builds a phone in India which is very well priced and opens up a new segment of internet users, at Facebook, we make sure our products are built for each and every platform that has a wide reach across the country in order to bring all of India online.

How has the privacy issue been addressed by Facebook for consumers in India post the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

The platform changes are global as privacy is a global concern and we are continually working towards educating our consumers and giving them control on their Facebook experience with respect to their own personal data. We are committed to letting our users take charge of privacy and have full control of their data and this is being done globally. For instance, apps that may have taken your permission once to use your data, will no longer be able to access it if they remain inactive for a specific amount of time. This is one such change. We have taken additional steps to put people more in control of their privacy and redesigned our entire settings menu on mobile devices from top to bottom to make things easier to find. We also announced a few more changes to our platform and APIs to maintain trust with people who use our products and the data ecosystem built around Facebook. In addition, we have also updated our ‘Terms of Service’ and ‘Data Policy’ to make them easier to read and more transparent about how we collect and use people's data.

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