Facebook’s Carolyn Everson On Right-Hand-Side Ads, Mobile, Instagram, And Hashtags

By David Cohen 

Facebook Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson touched upon several topics in a conversation with Ad Age, including the future of right-hand-side ads, the social network’s mobile advertising prospects, potential advertising on Facebook-owned photo-sharing network Instagram, and possible monetization of Facebook’s new hashtags.

After spending the past six months in London — where she oversaw the hiring of Nicola Mendelsohn as VP and managing director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, replacing Joanna Shields — Everson is currently attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on her way back to the U.S.

When asked about the future of Facebook’s right-hand-side ads, she told Ad Age:

The right-hand side — which is obviously only in the desktop environment — is still serving a significant purpose. I’ll start with small and medium businesses, which actually rely on that advertising unit a lot, all the way up to big brands that use it particularly for Facebook Exchange and retargeting. So I don’t expect we’ll do anything in terms of having it go away. I certainly don’t foresee that coming … (but) we went from 0 percent to 30 percent in mobile, and that is driven by a move to News Feed. The fact of the matter is that I’m having more conversations with marketers and agencies where they realize the power of News Feed because it gets into people’s hands on their mobile devices.

Everson on mobile advertising:

I can’t comment on any future projections. What I can say is that our mobile growth numbers and the interest advertisers have in mobile continue to strengthen … and be it a photo or a video page post on News Feed, it often takes up almost the entire screen if it’s on a smartphone, and that is a beautiful creative canvas. So suddenly, we’ve ignited a lot of interest from the creative community. They’re not thinking about us as just that right-hand rail.

We definitely have marketers that will say to us, “Can we consider doing a mobile-only deal?” And we’re happy to entertain that conversation. There are some large marketers that have been fairly vocal lately in the press around their mobile-only deals, and that’s a really important strategy for them. I think a lot of the motivation behind those deals is to institute very rapid change in the company. If they sign a mobile-only deal, it makes the marketer and their teams realize how important (mobile) is. The other thing I should say is that we also have (the ability to target feature phones only), which we did not have as of two months ago … (Advertising on feature phones) has been a very important way for global marketers to reach consumers in emerging markets.

Everson on possible ads on Instagram:

Instagram’s growth is incredibly impressive. It’s at 100 million-plus users now per month, and more than 40 million photos are being uploaded now per month … In terms of what marketers are doing, a lot of them are on Instagram now. Their brands are represented, they’re taking photos. You have Burberry, Nike, GoPro, Red Bull, a lot of brands that are probably the usual suspects…. So you can start to imagine what we might do down the road because of that.

I can’t comment on what we’re going to do with Instagram. What I can tell you is that (Instagram CEO) Kevin (Systrom) has spent time with the client council and shared the exciting growth that has happened on Instagram. And his advice and our advice for all of our clients is that they get on it, see what’s going on, and upload some photography about your brand that makes sense to understand how the platform works.

Everson on hashtags:

Hashtags are an important language on the Internet, and we found that people were using them quite extensively on Facebook and they weren’t able to aggregate those conversations into anything that made sense. So you can imagine the use cases down the road as people continue to use hashtags — around content they’re interested in, around travel, around all sorts of topics — that there will be a lot of interesting opportunities. But there’s no monetization plan right now for it. This is a consumer product, and one that we’ll continue to iterate on.