Facebook on how to drive growth in a fast-paced and increasingly mobile world

“Smartphones have fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives,” said Ed Couchman, Facebook’s Director of Agency Partnerships, kicking off proceedings at this week’s IAB UK Digital Upfronts at the Regent Street Cinema in central London earlier today.

With Christmas fast approaching – not to mention Black Friday and Cyber Monday – Facebook’s session focused on how brands can achieve cut through and growth in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Next up was Nick Morris, Founder and Managing Director of behavioural insights company Canvas8, who declared: “There used to be a time and a place for things. For news, it was The News at Ten. For shopping, it was Saturday afternoon. Now we’ve gone to anytime, anywhere - and over 20% of online sales are on the commute.  

“Active discovery is still a thing but it’s rarer,” he added, referring to the traditional notion of the marketing ‘funnel’ whereby need or desire is followed by discovery and then purchase. 

“Far more common than active discovery [now] is ambient discovery, but that’s harder to tap into,” he warned, pointing out, too, that, “when people think things are being pushed on them they rebel, they get fearful, they get anxious”. 

As such, what Morris termed ‘ambient discovery’ has to feel natural, he continued, claiming that all-important brand trust is still most commonly generated via the recommendation of family and friends.  

Next up, Ian Edwards, Facebook’s Head of Communications Planning, pointed to the importance of video content in particular. He warned that brands must use formats in a way which is in keeping with the context of platforms such as Facebook. 

With regards the ongoing debate about viewability, Edwards said that minimum duration requirements for true ad effectiveness remains a big topic for Facebook. “We want to give advertisers flexibility, to allow them to buy durations that matter to them, in the way that drives value to their business,” he said, warning, too, that brands need to design for ‘one minute, one hand’ mobile shopping.  

Ed Lovelock, Facebook’s Regional Product Marketing Manager then took to the stage to outline some of the platform’s latest ad formats. He spoke of the importance of offering a ‘fast, frictionless’ shopping experience and said that brands can ‘inspire’ audiences with new formats, such as Instagram Stories, which have tapped into the trend for what he described as ‘ephemeral content sharing’. 

The session ended with a thought-provoking panel debate hosted by Steve Rock, Head of Facebook’s Fast Track Growth Programme. Participants Nick Pendle, CMO at Eve Sleep; Michelle Kennedy, Co-founder and CEO, Peanut App; and Elfried Samba, Head of Digital Community, Gymshark are all working in fast-growing companies. They shared some of their learnings from recent months, when it comes to driving fast, but sustainable, growth.  

Having utilised influencer marketing to great effect, for instance, Gymshark recently started experimenting with paid social. But Samba warned against a ‘one-size-fits-all [content] strategy’ and pointed to the numerous iterations of creative the brand now leverages for campaigns.  

Meanwhile, Eve Sleep’s Pendle said that consumers are looking for ‘credibility’ online, where it is not possible to truly touch and feel products. He pointed to the brand’s ‘100 day trial’ as one example of the ‘tokens of credibility’ it offers customers and said that beautiful packaging as well as reliable and convenient delivery have also been identified as key aims for the direct to consumer Eve Sleep mattress brand. He pointed to the importance of user-generated content, too.  

“We spend money on producing ads,” he said, “but the most relevant are the ones our customers are producing for us. Today, everything is media.” 

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