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4A's Conference

Why Facebook Is Hiring Ad Agency Creatives

And How It Wants You to Think About the ROI of a Fan

By Published on .

Just in case you were wondering, Facebook is not trying to build an ad agency, despite recent hiring of some of the industry's creatives.

"Is Facebook building an agency internally, hiring a handful of creative people, starting something that becomes competitive with us?" JWT North America CEO David Eastman asked Facebook VP-Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson on stage at the 4As Transformation Conference in Beverly Hills today.

"You're thinking of Mark D'Arcy, who is my chief creative partner at Facebook, who we hired a little less than a year ago," Ms. Everson said. "Mark has hired a handful of people around the world so we can have a conversation with the Jeff Benjamins of the world and chief creative officers." (Jeff Benjamin being the digital creative JWT recently hired away from CP&B to be chief creative officer of JWT North America and New York.)

"Creatives like talking to creatives," Ms. Everson said. "We need enough people at Facebook who can sit across the table from a creative leader and engage in a conversation about what the possibilities are."

She urged the audience to look at how Facebook deals with developers to get a sense of how it would like to deal with ad agencies.

"We've been very good at partnering with developers, we had our F8 conference," which helped developers understand how to create programs and businesses on Facebook's platform, she said. In an analog to that , "we just had our first FMC (Facebook Marketing Conference)."

Ms. Everson did acknowledge that clients often look to get involved and connect to tech companies directly, rather than rely on their ad agencies to have the relationship. When she was at Viacom's MTV Networks she had very few direct client relationships, she said. But when she got to Microsoft, "I started to see the plethora of Silicon Valley client tours. ... [The thinking was that ] if I am a client I better understand how technology is changing consumer consumption or information-sharing," she said. "That does not mean there's not a robust role for the agency. As a matter of fact, clients are clamoring for their agencies to be that leader, to take them on the tours."

Mr. Eastman also asked Ms. Everson about a recent quote (which ran in Ad Age ), where an advertiser updated the IT maxim "nobody ever gets fired for buying IBM" to be "nobody will get fired for spending on Facebook."

Ms. Everson said that rather than looking at who's not getting fired, she sees marketers who are getting promoted for investing in social. She cited a client at American Express who had an extraordinary ascension because she "made a career decision to understand what was happening in the space … how social could transform the relationship a consumer can have with a financial institution."

Mr. Eastman also pressed Ms. Everson on social's ROI. "It's undeniable that a marketer wants to understand their best customers, their biggest fans who will become their brand advocates. … So the notion of what's the value of the fan, we have very specific metrics around that -- Nielsen and ComScore both studied this. Starbucks know fans spend 8% more when they go into Starbucks. Bing knows that fans do 60% more searches. American Express knows fans spend 28% more on small businesses."

She urged advertisers to be careful about how they look at fan ROI, so as to not repeat the mistakes the internet industry made in its early days. "The notion that you could know who your best customers are, have a one-to-one relationship and inspire them to become your best advocates -- that 's the totality of how we want you to think of this," she said. "To think about fans as just a number or a click-through, you're missing the entire piece about what's the value of a fan. It's not about how many people necessarily commented, or clicked through. That's the mistake the digital industry made when it started. What we thought was the most measurable industry has been boiled down to a handful of metrics that really don't tell you if someone bought your product off the shelf or went to purchase your car."

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