Facebook COO: ‘People Are Using Our Product to Protest Our Product. That’s Good.’

BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen Adler provided the lunchtime entertainment at today’s American Magazine Conference when he interviewed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

The executive, battling a possible staff defection, attempted to explain how she saw the future of online advertising playing out. “My view is that people don’t dislike ads,” she said. “They dislike irrelevant, untargeted ads.”

To this end, the much-reviled “new Facebook” is designed to have interactive ads. “It’s a much cleaner interface. And we launched an ad product on the right, which has interactive properties. People can interact with it,” the COO said. In a test campaign, MTV ran a video during its music awards and people could comment on the video. Those comments then went directly to the Newsfeed. “People were doing what they do with Facebook right in the ad,” Sandberg said.

How does she feel about the millions of people protesting the redesign?

“People are using our product to protest our product. That’s good,” she said. “Joking aside, protesting the new Facebook is the fifth most popular group on our site.”

Well, that’s one way to look at it.

Don’t expect the disliked new features to prevent the company from rolling them out. “We are willing to do things like redesign the site which may be uncomfortable in the short term that will enable us to [keep ahead of the technology.]”

We can hardly wait for the New New Facebook.