Dear ad industry: Facebook wants your help, so it's forming a 12-member client council that will give the social network input on advertising and marketing, it announced today at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity .
An invitation-only group, the client council will consist of agency leaders as well as Facebook's biggest global clients, said Facebook VP-Global Ad Sales Carolyn Everson during her Cannes keynote. The members will rotate yearly in order to give different companies a chance to participate and influence Facebook's various ad offerings, such as the latest "comments" ad unit, which was created in its first collaboration with an advertising agency.
"We need a way for the clients to have a formal mechanism to give us input," Ms. Everson said. "So we can learn from them and so they can get a glimpse of what we're doing ahead of the general public." Ms. Everson said she expects the council to meet four times a year at industry events and -- because of the nature of the information Facebook plans to share -- the meetings will be confidential.
The client council is the latest of Facebook's efforts to work with agencies. Facebook began reaching out about a year ago, after assembling a team to facilitate agency relations. These efforts went into overdrive as Ms. Everson started her new job at Facebook several months ago, when she told Ad Age that part of the reason she was hired was to bring Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley together.
Two of the first 12 members of the inaugural council are Nick Brien, CEO of McCann Worldgroup, and Wendy Clark, Coca-Cola's head of integrated marketing and communications. "The invites are going to go out next week and we'll have it locked up in the next 14 days," Ms. Everson said. The first meeting is planned for the Association of National Advertisers' confab in October.
"What I'm really interested in is hearing the aggregated interests of other advertisers and see how we can move social-media advertising forward," said Ms. Clark, who joined Coca-Cola in 2008 after a stint at AT&T. She also has something very particular in mind -- reviewing social-media metrics in order to reach consensus on how success is measured in that space. "Comparing myself to myself is fine, but having the context of other advertisers would be great," Ms. Clark said. "I'd like to see Facebook come out with an accepted benchmark."
You could say Coca-Cola has earned its place on the council -- a top advertiser on Facebook, the company has more than 31 million "likes" on its page.
Facebook wants to know what it can do to improve advertising on its platform by showing major clients its ad products as they are developed. "I would expect an actual dialogue where we bring our engineering team and our marketing team in and get feedback directly," Ms. Everson said. "It's important to get kickback from the market. I'm interested in having us solve our clients' problems and how to help make their business more social at the core."
How does Facebook want to engage with brands? We spoke to Facebook VP-Advertising and Operations David Fischer at Cannes: