Sheryl Sandberg Doubles Down on Facebook’s Branding Prowess

Pitch growing to chorus-level

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Just in case you’re an Internet marketer who went into a coma in 2007 and just woke up yesterday to hear Facebook taking such a full-throated stance that its digital ads work like TV spots, don’t worry, you’re going to be fine. That was 100 percent real.

Speaking with public television interview star Charlie Rose in front of about 550 marketers today, Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg doubled down on her company’s position that its social ads drive offline store sales in the traditional branding sense.

“We now [know] that not only do people see the ads,” she said at the IAB Mixx event in New York City, "we know they ring the cash registers.”

Indeed, four months after post-IPO Facebook started enduring increasing scrutiny about its ability to grow revenues, Sandberg and the rest of the Facebook Marketing Solutions team are not mincing words in their messaging during Advertising Week IX. Our impressions make a big impression, they’re heralding. Their sales language has arguably never been either this precise or this eyebrow-raising.

Brad Smallwood, Facebook’s measurement lead, yesterday pointed to his firm’s partnership with measurement firm DataLogix to study 50 campaigns, finding that Facebook advertisers’ physical store sales were the result of a click only one percent of the time. Ninety-nine percent of sales were from consumers who saw an ad but didn’t click it. He repeatedly said Facebook ads work "just like in TV."

Today, Smallwood didn't back down while speaking with Adweek in the conference halls of a midtown Manhattan hotel. “Branding does work online," he said. "When someone sees a message, that impression leads to in-store purchases. It’s the same as in TV.”

Whether or not Facebook ads work like TV spots could make for interesting discussions during the remaining three days of Advertising Week.

To be clear, Mark Zuckerberg's company doesn’t want all marketers focusing on ad impressions. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based digital giant also believes direct-response marketers will continue to think clicks are important to them. And it hopes an increasing number of retailers buy ads to push discounts they promote via Facebook Offers, a Groupon competitor.

Additionally, the nascent Facebook Exchange (FBX) is off to a tremendous start with its 15 ad tech firm partners, according to Facebook.

“We think it’s going to unlock a significant amount of spend around the globe,” said Carolyn Everson, Facebook vp of global marketing solutions. “We are seeing anywhere from 4X [return on investment] to 15X. And we are seeing marketers signing up everyday."

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.