Facebook Exec Talks ‘Home’ Ad Strategy, Monetization Opportunities

rebecca-van-dAt Ad Age’s Digital Summit, Rebecca Van Dyck, head of consumer marketing at Facebook, informed the audience that she hopes her company makes “a few more big mistakes because we learn faster from them.”

Van Dyck was referring to Mark Zuckerberg’s decision last year to undo the social giant’s previous efforts to embrace HTML5 apps and rebuild its mobile apps natively.

“We took a bet,” Van Dyck said, “and spent 2011 rebuilding everything on HTML5. Our engineers were also working across multiple OSs — Nokia, Blackberry, Windows, Android, iOS. But we later found that we really only needed to get the iOS and Android [versions] working and learn from there.”

Following complaints of slow load times and a clunky app experience, Zuckerberg later admitted that betting on HTML5 was Facebook’s “biggest mistake.”

On the bright side, according to Van Dyck, Facebook is now able to develop apps across multiple codes and languages and quickly adapt its programs for other platforms.

Tinkering with the Android OS was also the seed that eventually developed into Facebook Home. “At the same time that some folks were learning every code out there, another team was learning what they could do with Android to create the best Facebook experience for an Android device,” Van Dyck noted.

Without commenting on the pressure that Facebook is surely under making sure its new Home doesn’t flop, Van Dyck also explained that Facebook is “using all the tricks” of the marketer’s trade in promoting Facebook Home.

“This is the first time we’ve ever put ourselves out at this scale,” Van Dyck said.

For Facebook Home’s first campaign, the company is targeting young adults just out of college and people who already use Android phones.

Two days after unveiling Facebook Home on the HTC First, Facebook placed its “Airplane” video promoting the phone on its login screen and purposely aired the TV ad version later that night during the March Madness championship games.

Approximately 85 million people saw the Airplane video on Facebook, and about 15 million people saw the TV commercial on the first day both ads aired. Based on three days of results, viewers who saw the ads were twice as likely to purchase the HTC First (versus those who hadn’t seen the ad). “When you consider that device launches are usually lucky to get a one and a half times lift, we were very happy,” Van Dyck said.

In terms of whether Facebook Home will find its way into the iPhone, Van Dyck echoed statements from Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives that the company has a good relationship with Apple, but users are likely to see more experiments on the Android OS, given that its terms are more flexible.

Van Dyck also noted that while there are no immediate plans to introduce ads to Facebook Home,  ads will eventually appear.

“In terms of monetizing [Facebook Home], we think Cover Feed especially will be a great place to get ads in the same way we get them on our News Feed,” Van Dyck said. “The ads will be coming soon.”

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