ADOTAS – Following the performance of Facebook Vice President of Global Sales Carolyn Everson at the Federated Media Conversational Marketing Summit, a few other conference attendees commented that Everson, only 11 weeks into her new role, was a big switch from former VP of Global Sales Mike Murphy, who gave a canned spiel at the conference the year before. Everson’s hiring alone suggested Facebook was extending an olive branch to agencies, but her speech to the industry crowd at the conference amplified the message that the social network wants to be friends.
Two more elements of this outreach appeared this week. First, Facebook increased its ad formats to eight with the new Comments unit, which was actually designed by Leo Burnett, Chicago as part of a contest hosted by the social network last year to encourage agencies to design Facebook ad units.
The ad employs question-baiting — a unit sponsored by a brand prompts users to share experiences by posing a question. One launch partner is insurance company AllState, which asks users to open up through its personification of Mayhem, also known as Dennis from “30 Rock.”
It sounds similar to TypePad Conversations, introduced by blogging service and social media advertiser Six Apart last year before it was acquired by VideoEgg — the units are still available through the merged entity, SAY Media. With TypePad Conversations — check out our Adotas coverage — TypePad bloggers disseminate the sponsored questions, SAY aggregates responses to conversations.typepad.com and then syndicates highlighted answers across its network via the Awesome Bar.
Facebook Comments are only available for holders of premium accounts and will not be a self-service option. The unit is hooked up to Facebook’s other brand reachout, Sponsored Stories (something Everson couldn’t stop talking about at Federated’s conference) so that when a friend answers the sponsored question, it will appear as a Sponsored Story ad.
Move no. 2 is the Client Council, introduced at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (the name alone makes me want to wretch). This band of 12, including McCann Worldgroup CEO Nick Brien and Coca-Cola Marketing Head Wendy Clark, will bring peace to the valley by slaying the fire-breathing dragons that nest in the East. Oh, wait — getting my live-action role-playing mixed up with work again.
No, the council will get to view and comment on Facebook ad units as they’re being developed. Council membership is invitation-only and the cast will be rotated yearly.
In April, the social network introduced Facebook Studio for helping brands set up Facebook pages and other social branding techniques, and held its first Studio Live event, which included 200 participants.
It seems Facebook is no longer satisfied with the ad dollars of small and local businesses. Agencies are the gatekeepers to bringing in big brand dollars at scale. But can the two play nice?