On building the brand and revenue story in India: Facebook’s Sandeep Bhushan

The social media giant claims to care for advertisers; and hence is building ROI driven solutions

Facebook ads and marketing
In all, through Facebook family, we are helping large business create an effective and efficient marketing ecosystem while allowing small businesses democratise.

With three products – Facebook, Instagram and now WhatsApp – Facebook claims to be creating a complete advertising and marketing solutions for brands – which is based on two key factors – efficiency and effectiveness. In conversation with BrandWagon Online, Sandeep Bhushan, director and head Global Marketing Solutions (GMS) – talks about how the company plans to get the revenue rolling in. (edited excerpts)

Even as brands spend use Facebook for marketing, how do you ensure you remain relevant?

We’ve been fairly consistent with the value the platform can provide to a marketer. The interesting conversation here is whichever part of the funnel we’re talking about, the aim is to create category relevance. This is important because whether it is beauty or travel, holidays, among others – these are all under penetrated categories, in India. As consumers come into the consumption class, whichever category makes a move, is a use case for us. Relevance to brand advertising all the way to sales. Further, multiple studies suggest that for any brand mixing Facebook family with traditional medium such as TV, adds to the reach while cuts costs.

So that’s one of the key agendas — taking efficiency and effectiveness forward at scale and pace. Our other big agenda has always been bringing small business to Facebook. Our platform allows small businesses to build a base without opting for mass media. Thus the launch marketing budget is not very big. For instance, Mamaearth, which is a three year old company, makes toxin free baby products. The company sells premium products, however, the cost of distribution increases tremendously if they opt for regular trader. Being on the platform allows the firm to be targeted, in terms of attracting affluent users in a certain age bracket.

Moreover, lots of brands are now on Instagram. This is because, not always a customer wants to buy, she also wants to browse or as we call it, ‘ window shop’. On Instagram brands whether it is a fashion label can start a ‘window shopping’ experience irrespective of the scale. Brands can start for as less as $1 to $5.

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In all, through Facebook family, we are helping large business create an effective and efficient marketing ecosystem while allowing small businesses to democratise. These have been our themes and 2020 will see massive explosions in these areas.

With advertisers tightening purse strings, how do you create solutions which are a combination of efficiency and effectiveness?

We care for the advertiser. Therefore, part of the job is ensure whatever amount is spent on marketing it should be spent efficiently. Our take is whoever drives efficiency takes the share. There were two principles- one is whatever is the budget around the task, let the best measurement decide the strategy. Secondly, try and be so efficient that ad spends can actually increase profit. We have multiple products to achieve these — for example, dynamic ads – which drives performance and return on investment very significantly. Next are small businesses which we will continue to democratise and build products which include payment, among others. We have a privilege to host 140 million small businesses, globally. So as long as we deliver value on efficiency, performance marketing, ROS, and on supporting small businesses to access markets and customers, revenue should follow.

How is Instagram being used to target consumers?

Instagram, at the core, is about pursuing passions and things you like while Facebook is about friends and family. Both are personalised, but the vectors are different. Passion has allowed Instagram to be very engaging. Even in case of brand communication, which may not necessarily be interesting, but is engaging. Secondly, Instagram has allowed brands and users to use fantastic expressions. For example, stories can be told in 15 seconds. When it comes to experience, consumers now find ads interesting on the platform in the interim context, even on stories.

There has been a lot of chatter on engagement dropping on Facebook, how is each product positioned from a user point of view?

We have not seen a loss in engagement. In fact, in our September Q3 result, we have reported both increase in monthly and daily basis engagement. 32 crore is the monthly active users in India, out of which, 19.5 crores are daily active users. So, engagement is extremely good.

All three platforms are working for consumers who also use Gmail. All are used for messaging. What we have found is that, and all these platforms are used and are additive in terms of very specific needs and ways that they are being used. Our play is how to create a great use case for each app on its own. I’ll illustrate — video has been a big focus for us on Facebook starting from live, 360 and now stories as well. So a user has access to all forms of video expressions. On Instagram, we started with a story and added IGTV. On IGTV to watch beyond 15 seconds, users are required to click . So we focus on additive time and not competitive time and our data clearly shows that we’re doing okay there.

What more video marketing products we will see from Facebook in 2020 and how will you monetise IGTV?

We have found video as a primary form of expression on our medium. Within this, there are multiple formats. There is a long format – which allows users to go live, to all the 2.8 billion Facebookers. One doesn’t need a broadcast license. So that’s one format of video. Now moving to ‘standard video’, which is a seven to 10 second video. Due to low attention span, these videos are short yet effective. Secondly, short videos use a vocabulary which is different from 30 second videos. Thirdly, videos with a lot of expressions built in are stories. So because video making is easy, and it’s absolutely ubiquitous around us, there are multiple use cases and tools. For example, celebrities use a lot of ‘Facebook Live’ to get intimate expressions behind the scenes. Also, each format allows for some monetisation. But I think we look at it from a portfolio perspective, which is overall, because as a platform we must have various experiences. And wherever monetisation becomes interesting and does not jar the consumer experience. That’s when we’d go in.

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