What Facebook’s Head of Advertising Wants to See Happen in 2017

Andrew Bosworth is bullish on mobile and personalization

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During his long tenure at Facebook, Andrew Bosworth has been tasked with creating both the company's newsfeed and its mobile advertising strategy. Now, Bosworth—Facebook's vp of ads and business—has his sights set on another shift in how people use the plaform by making it more useful.

Bosworth, a close advisor to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, believes people don't use smartphones in their daily lives nearly as much as they should. 

"I continue to be really caught up with these tremendously capable devices, in terms of what they can do—location awareness, cameras—they've got everything you need, and we do not use them in the physical world nearly as often as I would expect," he said, speaking with Adweek after giving a talk at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Friday. "I mean, if I told you that you had this device, you would imagine you would be using it for more regular things in your life. And instead, mostly, other than maps, you use it to transport yourself into the internet."

Hyperlocalizing the expansive digital network is the next step, he added. In Bosworth's mind, Facebook should help people directly order food, buy tickets to events, find out what to do on a Saturday night and shop until their heart's content straight from the app. Some of this has already begun, as Facebook integrates chatbots that help people order things through third-party partners. Others have begun to bubble up organically, such as people using Facebook's recommendations service to solicit ideas from friends in any given city.

"I think 2017 is going to be a time to chip away at all these daily annoyances we all have that should be a lot easier," he said. "All these little things that are just dingy little annoyances should be a lot better, and we're going to start chipping away at those. And it's not just use, but as an industry we're trying to finally make these devices live up to their potential."

Here's what else Facebook's product mastermind wants to see in 2017:

Better creative and audience data

Bosworth said personalized ads through both artificial intelligence and customized media buying is going to help brands better target consumers that are interested in any given product or service. However, he said Facebook can only do so much with its systems and that brands have to up their game in terms of better creative and useful audience data. 

"At the end of the day, our ability to drive results is only as good as the creative we get and only as good as the audience we're given to target," he said.

The exec mentioned Sony Pictures, which has been using Facebook to target the same movie to different audiences with separate creative. For example, speaking on a panel at CES, Bosworth talked with Josh Greenstein, the movie studio's president of worldwide marketing and distribution. For last year's survival thriller "The Shallows," Sony created spots for teens, horror enthusiasts, surfing fans and adult audiences.

"I think what you heard from Sony is that instead of just trying one true creative [marketers] should be trying lots of creative and lots of different things, with lots of different audiences," Bosworth said afterward. "And then as a second step, they should see what's resonating and then double down and then and see what's not and trim back on that."

Bosworth said some of the most sophisticated marketers—which he said notably come from the gaming and ecommerce industries—are already seeing results from being able to know what's effective and what's not.

"I mean, if you think about it, if I'm a gaming company, I can tell very quickly if you did or did not install an app and that allows me to know the efficacy of my ad in the short term," he said.

Improved transparency in measurement

Last year, Facebook faced a lot of questions after it revealed some of its video metrics had been inaccurately counted for as long as two years. During Advertising Week 2016 in New York, Caroline Everson, Facebook's vp of global marketing solutions, said one regret the company had was not being forthcoming sooner with some of the faulty stats. Bosworth seemed to echo that sentiment on Friday, explaining that Facebook is aiming to be more transparent this year.

"We're never going to be perfect—nobody's ever going to be on everything they do," he said. "It's not a surprise. But I think that we are committed to being transparent whenever there is any kind of issue. The truth is that even going back to the very first issue that sparked all this, the video metrics, these issues are relatively minor. None of them were billable, none of them were things marketers are making big spends on."

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.