Sheryl Sandberg Speaks With CNBC’s Julia Boorstin At The MAKERS Conference

By David Cohen 

SherylSandbergCNBC650Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg spoke with Julia Boorstin of CNBC at The MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., produced by AOL, and she touched on several subjects for segments that will air throughout the business news network’s Business Day programming, including Facebook’s transition to a mobile company, its progress with Madison Avenue, the social network’s A Look Back videos, and Facebook’s focus for the near future.

On the transition to mobile, Sandberg told Boorstin:

Well, the mobile changed happened faster than anyone expected, and we had to react quickly. And you saw that over the past year-and-a-half. We had to make the company a mobile-first product company. Literally, we would end product reviews, and Mark (Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg) would say, “Where’s your mobile screenshot? This meeting’s over until we have one.”

And we had to change our revenue model. A year ago, we didn’t have any mobile ad revenue, and now with this quarter, more than one-half of our ad revenue is from mobile. But more important, by putting ads into News Feed and how engaging News Feed is and how engaging those ads are, we think we have by far the best mobile ad product out on the market. And we’re excited to see the growth.

Sandberg also discussed Facebook’s challenges and progress in terms of making headway with the advertising industry:

We have to prove it, and we should have to prove it. The big brand dollars on Madison Avenue are really important to our growth. We’re doing well with them. Every one of the Ad Age 100 has advertised with us over the past year. But measurement was a really big challenge for us. If you look back a year ago, we could show you that if you ran ads with us, we improved brand sentiment, but we couldn’t link that to in-store sales. And over the past year, we made the product investments and the tools investments to be able to say, “These people saw Facebook ads. These are the sales results they’ve achieved.” And that is really how the dollars start moving.

Three years ago, Facebook was an experimental buy. And while we’re still a really small part of ad budgets, we have lots of room to grow to get even what’s close to our share of consumer time, in terms of ad budgets. If you’re a chief marketing officer in this country now, you have a Facebook strategy. And that’s because you are starting to at least or you do understand that we can really drive your business.

We’ve rolled out ads very carefully. As we’ve put ads into our News Feed, we’ve very carefully monitored user sentiment, and we’re really pleased with how it’s gone. We said during our last earnings call that sentiments improved on mobile, even as we’ve added more ads. And so I think we are very focused on creating good ads for the people who use Facebook.

In response to a question from Boorstin about the perpetual issue of whether Facebook is losing teen users, Sandberg mentioned the A Look Back videos the social network introduced to mark its 10th anniversary:

We just look at what’s happening — how teens are using Facebook, how, you know, older people are using Facebook, how people are making Facebook such a big part of their lives. It was our 10th anniversary last week, and we rolled out what we called our Look Back videos, which were these kind of one-minute videos of the highlights from people’s Facebook experiences. And it was an incredible thing. Almost 200 million people saw those videos. And, importantly, 50 percent of the people who saw their own videos chose to share them. That’s what we’re focused on — on building products that really make people want to share and have great experiences doing it.

Finally, Sandberg offered Boorstin a glimpse into Facebook’s plans for standalone applications and targeted advertising:

I think for the foreseeable future, the great majority of our business will come from our main app. As we roll out some of these new apps, we’ll see what works. We’ll see what takes off. And then there are things that will grow like Instagram has grown. And then we will be in a position to introduce modernization and ads. But out focus when we first roll out these products is on the experience of the people who use them.

I think advertisers right now know that they can buy ads on Facebook and get great returns. And we’ll continue to work with them to prove that case and enable them to launch great ad experiences. And for people who use Facebook, we want to enable them to share however they want to share. So if they want to share in the main Facebook app or they want to send a one-to-one message, we want to offer both of those.

I think we’re at the beginning of personalized marketing at scale. I think what people want are messages that matter to them and communication — commercial communication and other communication — that feels relevant. Our goal is to make our advertisements on Facebook as relevant and useful and even fun as the content you get from friends. We’ve made progress, but we have a long way to go to get there. We also really want to help people share more and connect more, and that means share more with each other, but also share to more with the businesses that matter to them and are part of their lives.

Readers: What did you think of Sandberg’s comments to CNBC?