Facebook had been seeking a sales leader since Mike Murphy
stepped down last fall to be an adviser to Facebook partner Zynga.
Microsoft is an investor and longtime ad-sales partner with
Facebook, so Ms. Everson had plenty of opportunity to become
acquainted with her new boss, David Fischer, Facebook's
VP-advertising and global operations. *
Microsoft's initial reaction to Ms. Everson's sudden departure
was anger and a potential lawsuit -- Steve Ballmer had hired her
himself after a years-long search. Prior to joining Microsoft last
year, Ms. Everson was MTV Networks ad sales' chief operating
officer, where she spearheaded a $500 million multi-year
advertising deal with Microsoft at the end of 2007. She has also
managed web operations for Primedia and Zagat in addition to
holding posts in cable TV and Disney. Ms. Everson will work in New
York, where she can stay up close and personal with her friends on
Madison Avenue. She is in charge of a team that is more than 300
people strong, spread out worldwide and growing daily.
Ad Age: Is Microsoft still contesting your move
to Facebook? How was that resolved?
We are all on great terms at this point. I have nothing but
positive things to say about Microsoft's team. Microsoft and
Facebook have been partners for years and will continue that
partnership. Day to day, I do not have involvement with what
Facebook is doing with Microsoft, but my team is responsible for
relationships with the top brands globally -- of which Microsoft is
one -- so I have people on my team who work with Microsoft.
Ad Age: What is the biggest difference between
working at Microsoft and working at Facebook?
Ms. Everson: It's a question of focus and how
much is the advertising/marketing core to the business. Microsoft
is a huge corporation with many different businesses and
significant revenue, of which advertising is a small piece of the
pie. Here, our core revenue streams are driven by advertising, so I
feel very much at the center of how Facebook is going to evolve.
The culture here feels a bit more entrepreneurial. I'm sitting at a
desk with a phone next to three other people -- I've never had this
kind of work environment before. We don't even have offices -- it's
one big room. And I'm sitting next to my executive assistant who
has worked for me for seven years, and I've never sat this close
with her before! You can feel the energy.
Ad Age: Will Facebook advertising be more about
brands and agencies or about self-serve ads, which are a bigger
part of the Facebook business today?
Ms. Everson: My responsibility -- and one of
the reasons why Facebook brought me here -- is to work with the
largest brands and largest agencies. My experience with Madison
Avenue is what I'm bringing to Facebook. Everyone is really eager
to partner with Facebook, and I see tremendous interest in
Facebook, more interest than in any other company I've worked for
-- and that's why I joined. The companies are asking for help in
how to bring their brands to life.
Ad Age: What is your role?
Ms. Everson: I'm going to be focused with
premium brands as well as media and creative agencies; to have them
be partners with us and to figure out what it means to use social
in the form of marketing; to figure out what it means to put people
in the center of social; to work with how those brands think about
their overall business in a social context. If you look at my
background -- I've been in the media-marketing space for 17 years
-- pretty much all of my experience has been with the largest
brands, whether it be at Disney or at MTV networks.
Ad Age: How does Facebook fit in with other
Ms. Everson: I see Facebook as a complement to
other forms of media. What sticks out is that Facebook is a much
more social and personalized experience. In the age where people
are getting hit with hundreds of marketing messages a day --
depending on what study you use, it can be as high as 700 messages
a day -- how do you stand out from that? I think a recommendation
from a friend is extremely powerful.
Ad Age: The Facebook sales team owns the home
page. Facebook created a new ad unit called the Sponsored Story to
be included the news feed. Any other ad products on the drawing
Ms. Everson: While I'm not able to disclose
specifically, I can tell you there was an amazing brainstorm that
happened right before I started, and there were 500 ideas. The
threshold at Facebook is that marketing should be as valuable and
useful to the consumer as the rest of the Facebook experience. That
means we may brainstorm 500 ideas, and only a handful will be
implemented. Sponsored Stories is directionally where we need to
head. You'll see a lot of new stuff coming from us in the next few
months. There was a "Fast Company" article with a term that I liked
-- "usertising" [user-generated advertising]. And we need to make
sure that the creative community understands how we incorporate all
of our advertising for the good of our users.
Ad Age: Considering that many major brands have
millions to spend but only a tiny fraction of it is spent on social
media, what can you do to get those dollars to be spent on
Ms. Everson: Some marketers and agencies put us
in a sliver of their bucket of social media. But it's not just
about getting your social media out. It is putting people at the
center of your customer service, at the center of the way marketing
is conducted or the center of any other part of your company. In
that very narrow way, some companies see that Facebook has an ad
unit on the side of the screen, so they give us a small part of
their budget and are maybe collecting fans on their page. But the
clients that are leaning in and taking it a lot further, they're
not just acquiring fans -- they are also engaging and amplifying
their fans. If you're thinking of us just as a social-media space,
you're thinking about us too narrowly. We have a lot of education
to do. And we already have clients like American Express and
Procter & Gamble being progressive and aggressive in how
they're working with us.
Ad Age: What are you trying to do at
Ms. Everson: It's way beyond just a
social-media-advertising discussion. What we're trying to do at a
simple level is be advocates on behalf of brands. If I like a brand
story and I have a great experience that I post on my wall, it goes
out to my friends and friends of friends -- it's word-of-mouth
marketing at a scale that we've never had before.
Ad Age: Facebook pages are free, and yet to
have a successful page, brands spend money paying third-parties to
build out the page -- do you have a plan around that activity?
Ms. Everson: People "like" a brand page 50
million times a day! There's a healthy ecosystem of partners that
are working with Facebook and we love that. We are a completely
open platform. We very much want to support that system. That said,
we are continuing to think of new ad units. There are new
developments coming out every week, so what we look like today is
not what we're going to look like in a few months, in six or 12
months. There are a lot of innovations going around.
Ad Age: Facebook has a notoriously low
click-through rate, and users often say they "don't even see" the
ads -- what can you do to improve that?
Ms. Everson: We have very compelling research
that what we're doing is effective. We can show what we've done
with launches of new TV shows and opening weekends of movies. In
general, the industry suffers from the emphasis on click-through
rate. I feel very confident based on results that we're seeing,
especially when friends are recommending to friends. Research shows
that, on average, people are 68% more likely to remember seeing the
ad if their friend has recommended it and twice as likely to
remember the message of the ad. Those are Nielsen numbers. To us,
what's more powerful than click-through is, "Are people paying
attention to the message and remembering it?"
Ad Age: Facebook just launched Facebook Studio
to connect with advertising agencies -- what is your role in
fostering that relationship?
I think it's a great opportunity to showcase the work and build
a social community around marketing. We are living and acting on
what we say other brands should do -- having a social community
where your work can be shared and the most Liked items rise to the
top -- it's a little bit of us walking the walk.
Ad Age: What is the biggest challenge in your
Ms. Everson: I'm not sure the marketing
community understands our story yet. We evolve so quickly. We have
a saying here: "We are 1% done with our mission." We are just
beginning. We've got a lot to learn, and we want to learn together
with our partners, making sure they understand that the platform is
going to evolve continually. Even someone like me, who's been in
the industry and is a user of Facebook, even I didn't understand
the story until after I got here. Now that I'm here, I see how
powerful it can be.
~ ~ ~
CORRECTION: An earlier
version of this story incorrectly stated that Ms. Everson reports
to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating