The Techonomy 2012 conference outside of Tucson, Ariz. wrapped up with a session featuring two Facebook team members: Sam Lessin, Project Manager, and David Fischer, VP of Business and Marketing Partnerships. Together they explained an ideal future of Facebook where the newsfeed is a perfectly aggregated newspaper and advertising efforts do what traditional print newspapers cannot: make money.
David Kirkpatrick, Techonomy founder and author of the The Facebook Effect, led a conversation about the fusion of user experience and monetization. The user experience is most important, insisted Fischer and Lessin, and advertising simply augments this experience with personally tailored options.
“The fundamental piece of Facebook is that it’s all about people [and] using your networks to help filter information,” said Lessin. While most of this information is about friends, promoted material and advertisements are becoming more of a priority. When a user is provided with useful, targeted, timely information, his decision-making will be better, Fischer said. Lessin pointed to New York City umbrella salesmen as an example: you never see them when it’s not raining, but once it starts, they’re on every corner and have exactly what you need.
Targeted advertising is especially important for mobile users, who are more engaged and more likely to visit the site every day.
“It’s no secret that mobile is the critical growth area, and we’ve certainly invested in a heavy way this year in mobile,” said Fischer. “Mobile is a great thing for our users, for our advertisers, and for Facebook.” Right now, mobile accounts for 14 percent of advertising revenue, he said.
But even with the pressure to monetize, Facebook is sticking to its sweeping goal of creating a connected, global community.
“We as a species in the last few decades have gotten three new superpowers,” said Lessin. “We can literally remember anything, we can talk to anyone on earth instantly for free, and we can process huge amounts of data.” This is the world of today’s Facebook users, and Lessin says Facebook is taking advantage of these trends to create a better product. But, one audience member asked, are they using their superpowers for good?
“The tools we have today to reach a new audience work for nonprofits and important causes, too,” said Fischer. “They find Facebook to be a really engaging place to build up awareness.”
“First and foremost we see ourselves as a medium, as a way of community, as a set of tools for people to reach out to each other and share what they believe in,” added Lessin. “That in and of itself is probably the most powerful thing we can do right now.”
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