Among other things, Facebook used the event to showcase its
"Custom Audiences" program rolled out last fall, which lets
marketers upload their customer-relationship-management databases
to target messages to their consumers on Facebook by, for example,
matching up email addresses. Examples included targeting Facebook
ads on a timed basis for "Saturday shoppers" or people at the
midpoint of their pet-food purchase cycles.
Such targeting is possible through the CPG companies' own
databases, which often include information culled from data on
offline shopping patterns or promotion redemptions, "all in a
privacy-sensitive and compliant way," Mr. Isserlis said.
Up to now, Facebook's relations with advertisers -- in and
outside CPG -- have been mixed.
Publicly, most CPG and other advertisers have lauded the social
network and its potential as an advertising vehicle, including such
major advertisers and client advisory board members as executives
of Unilever, Procter
& Gamble Co. and their biggest customer, Walmart. The social
network reports fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday -- news that
people will be looking for.
Privately, another executive of a large CPG advertiser recently
noted, with a combination of dismay and understanding the business
realities, a recent shift in Facebook representatives from
encouraging more frequent communication with brand fans to
encouraging fewer posts and saying the only way to ensure reaching
those fans is buying Sponsored Stories.
Also privately, the CMO of another company last year described a
meeting between several large advertisers across industry verticals
with a Facebook executive, whom the CMO described as arrogant, ill
informed about advertisers and essentially asking them to fund
experiments toward Facebook developing a business model.
That's not, of course, the impression Facebook is trying to
achieve with the new round of marketer summits.
"It's very important to us to talk to our clients in a voice
they can relate to," Ms. Hunter said. "We moved toward vertical
solutions and talking to marketers with someone who has experience
in the industry. ...Everything we launch will have a vertical lens
when we talk to clients about it."
And the CPG marketers appeared to find value in the experience.
Almost all the 170 attendees stayed until well into the 6 p.m.
"I think the attitude is what matters, and they have that
willingness to improve," said Reckitt Benckiser
Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Laurent Faracci, one of the
presenters and attendees at the summit. "We have that willingness
to improve too."
That means, he said, "being willing to do great things together
with the right investments, which means from our side some media
spending, because that's what it's all about."
He said he's learned that that internal concerns about RB
advertising on Facebook being disruptive or unwanted by users
aren't well founded. "If you're respectful of the platform," he
said, "any category is worth sharing."