Too Many Brands Are Still Employing a Check-the-Box Strategy

Facebook vp David Lawenda brings his Hispanic marketing know-how to the social network


Who David Lawenda

Age 46

New gig Facebook’s vp of global marketing solutions, U.S.

Old gig Univision’s president of ad sales and marketing

Your last career stop was at Univision. A few weeks after Facebook hired you, it opened a Miami office and announced a Hispanic marketing conference there. Is it safe to say that the Spanish-language demo now has Facebook’s full attention?

Most definitely, and it’s because U.S. Hispanics across the online spectrum continue to grow. We got 23 million people in this affinity group.

What kind of ad sales growth can you achieve with the Hispanic market?

It’s still an untapped space across all media platforms, so I am very bullish on this opportunity. At Facebook, where we haven’t been as focused on what we bring to the table until just now, I’d say we are expecting huge growth.

Facebook often talks about how big CPGs like Nestlé and Mondelez are on the platform. But some folks may wonder why they don’t see more big-name ads.

Are all the brands in those portfolios taking full advantage? No. We have work to do right now at the brand level. But we have champions at the top of those CPGs who are driving this into the organizations.

What is the No. 1 reason the company hired you?

In 25 years in this business, I have always been drawn to opportunities to transform industry mind-sets. I helped launch UPN [in 1995]. I launched Spike TV before there were men’s channels outside of sports. At Univision, my job was similar in terms of making Hispanic marketing more of the mainstream vernacular. I’m coming to help change the industry mind-set about Facebook—to make it more of a marketing cornerstone versus just a social media tactic.

What needs to be done to change the mind-set?

We are a different company than we were two years ago. In addition to amazing scale, we offer precise targeting, deep engagement and proven results for brands. I like to call it “TV with benefits.”

Speaking of television, Twitter has succeeded by positioning itself as the go-to second-screen marketing platform. Can Facebook counter?

I’d say we already are there. We’ve got five times more television conversations on our platform than any other medium.

A much-circulated Forrester Research study recently said Facebook display ads perform abysmally. Are they still truly the future of advertising on the platform?

Not anymore. Once we started taking ads in our newsfeed, it changed the game. It’s a compelling piece of real estate. There are brands that totally get it. And there are still too many brands that are still employing a check-the-box strategy.

Facebook has been offering bricks-and-mortar store purchasing metrics to CPGs for the last year. Is that still a major part of the sales pitch?

It remains a huge part of the conversation because we can now offer everything that television offers and then some.

How is social advertising different from other media you’ve sold?

Is the vernacular a little bit different? Yeah. But I got asked the same question when I left MTV Networks after 14 years and went to Univision. I actually don’t speak fluent Spanish and went to a Spanish-language media company where I had a learning curve as well. But the fundamentals of marketing are the same, and those translate to Facebook.