Digital Conference

Facebook Practices What It Preaches for 'Home' Ad Blitz

85 Million Facebook Users Were Targeted Online on First Day of Campaign

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Rebecca Van Dyck, Facebook's head of consumer marketing, delivers the keynote address to close the first day of the Ad Age Digital Conference.
Rebecca Van Dyck, Facebook's head of consumer marketing, delivers the keynote address to close the first day of the Ad Age Digital Conference. Credit: Photo by Patrick Butler

Facebook is going all-in for its first ad push with TV spots that launched during March Madness championship games -- but also with a heavy dose of Facebook marketing to practice what it preaches.

"We get to be our own client," said Rebecca Van Dyck, Facebook's head of consumer marketing, speaking at Ad Age's Digital Conference. "We are going through all the same things that you guys are."

The product being pitched to consumers is Facebook Home, the Android app unveiled earlier this month that essentially lets the social network take over people's phones, primarily through a feature called "Cover Feed" that deploys a constantly changing stream of Facebook content to the phone's home and lock screens. Home can also come preloaded on the new HTC First device.

Ms. Van Dyck is tapping into Facebook's reach to make an impression on consumers. While the campaign for Home includes "all the tricks of our trade" like TV spots and in-store display, a massive Facebook ad campaign is also underway. Ms. Van Dyck said that on April 6, two days after the announcement, 85 million U.S. Facebook users -- which represents about 27% of the population of the country -- were shown ads for Home across a gamut of placements. Counting the roughly 15 million TV viewers tuned into March Madness that night, the number gets bigger.

She observed that the target audience for the campaign is people between 18 and 29, but more specifically young adults who are relatively recent college graduates and bound to get the most out the product because they have a lot of friends and post a lot of photos.

"It's someone who's in the market for a new phone, who's willing to try something new and whose friends are the center of their lives, which naturally falls to a younger demographic," she said, noting that current Android users are also a target.

Ms. Van Dyck also presented Home in the context of Facebook's epic mobile journey over the past seven years. Last year CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly acknowledged that the extent of the company's investment in HTML5 at the expense of native apps had been a mistake. He also restructured the company so that every engineering team was integrating mobile into its projects instead of having mobile development siloed in one group.

Asked whether Home would be available for iOS devices any time soon, Ms. Van Dyck pointed to the fact that Android is riper for experimentation.

"We love what we're doing with Apple and we'll continue to do that kind of thing," she said. "Android gives us the opportunity to do a lot more because it's so open."

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