Matthew Idema Details Facebook’s Advertising Product Philosophy

Facebook vice president of monetization product marketing Matthew Idema shared the social network’s philosophy behind developing advertising solutions in a Facebook for Business post.

Facebook vice president of monetization product marketing Matthew Idema shared the social network’s philosophy behind developing advertising solutions in a Facebook for Business post.

Idema’s post was a response to a question fielded by Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the company’s fourth-quarter-2015 earnings call, in which he said:

First, you build a great consumer experience … that helps people share in a new way that’s really important. Then, after that, you can start to introduce organic ways that people can interact with businesses … Only once you have that ramped up to a good scale can you really start dialing up advertising, having that feel good and be a good part of the experience.

Idema elaborated further in his Facebook for Business post:

So, in a few steps, this is how we develop advertising solutions:

  • 1) Build great experiences for people.
  • 2) Study people’s behaviors on the platform.
  • 3) Help businesses connect with people organically.
  • 99) Introduce a new advertising solution.

Steps 4 through 98? Those are pivots, backtracks, failures and sometimes big leaps forward. They are focus groups with people and conversations with advertisers. They are A/B tests, polls and studies to determine if the product is delivering real business value for different advertisers with different goals in different verticals in every corner of the world.

Only after we’ve proven to ourselves and our partners that the new ad product improves people’s experiences, rather than hindering them, do we introduce that product.

And then there’s figuring out how to offer the right ads to the right people at the right time. When ads are highly relevant, they’re not only more effective for businesses, but they’re also more valuable to the people who see them. So we don’t just invest in building ad solutions that are both suitable to the platform and the way people use it: We invest in building the technology that powers ad relevance, too.

This philosophy guides us through every platform and product we build. We launched News Feed in 2006 but didn’t introduce ads in News Feed until 2012. We launched ads on Instagram slowly and methodically, taking the time to gauge people’s responses and the effect for advertisers. We made auto-play video available to advertisers only after product usage and survey responses told us that people enjoyed the auto-play experience. Overall, we choose sustainability over immediacy, and both the people who use our services and the marketers who advertise in them have better experiences because of that choice. And we’re never really “done” with a product, because we’re always working to make them better for people and for advertisers.

This isn’t the fastest way to build products, nor is it the best way to maximize revenue in the short term. But with more than 1.59 billion people using Facebook every month, we think it’s worth the investment.

Readers: What did you think of Idema’s post?