“The idea of technology is that you can measure everything,” said Nicolas Franchet, director, global vertical strategy at Facebook.
And he has the data to back that statement up.
Through the company’s three pillars — discovery, personalization and return on investment — Franchet creates a compelling case as to why brands should work with the social network.
“You want to tell your brand story with pictures, [and] both Facebook and Instagram are picture-based experiences,” Franchet said. “Brands are telling their stories using beautiful photographs, and the photos are not small because you’re holding the phone pretty close.”
He cited brands like Coach and Tory Burch as successfully adapting their creative and showcasing these products on Facebook and Instagram, respectively. Nordstrom also excels at adapting creative content cross-channel, and Franchet called the department store “extraordinary” at delivering consistent photography across all creative.
Last year, the launch of Facebook’s Carousel product enabled a new format for brands to tell their stories, which allows marketers to show a range of products that go together. Franchet described Carousel as bringing much of the storytelling to digital that was traditionally happening in print.
Another way the platform sought to drive action from its vast user base is through features like a Shop Now button. Online lingerie retailer True & Co. used the shop button to not only drive people to their site, but also to get people to download and use their app.
But Carousel and Shop Now buttons aside, the real hero product on Facebook now is video — the format that’s seen the most rapid growth.
“We serve over four billion videos a day, 75 percent of which are consumed on mobile. Video is a great way to showcase the brand in a very rich context,” Franchet said, noting that brands can “do it like Chanel and bring over the beautiful creative they’ve done around fashion shows.”
He said Facebook is starting to see interesting video experiments, including a series of eight-second videos produced by Canadian retailer Sports Chek. The brand was able to correlate the short-form videos to lift product sales in-store.
Franchet then moved on to what he called the “second big tenet,” or personalization.
He told the audience to think of Facebook as a personal newspaper, where people can come back 14 times a day and each time see a different set of news, photos and data than their last visit.
“We’re adapting content to who the people are. We think we can bring the platform to your business to do that more,” Franchet said. “You want to talk to her in the most relevant way possible about things she cares about. That’s the only way to move…to the must-have concept of personalization with a small mobile device.”
For instance, Blue Nile can target men in a relationship or even those who might have an anniversary coming up, and help them select a gift for their significant other. Burberry localized their creative and copy to what language users spoke, and Franchet said that it’s even possible to target tourists in real-time on Fifth Avenue in New York City in their native language.
But he credits Lexus as taking this personalization to the next level, noting that some of the best creative doesn’t necessarily come out of the retail and fashion industries. The automotive category is a leader in this space, and Lexus in particular launched a campaign with 1,000 different video creators on Facebook.
“Return on investment is the third and trickiest piece,” Franchet said. “Traditional models are complex and frankly, broken.”
But Facebook is bent on helping marketers see an ROI, and this starts with people-based marketing. Franchet said that one has to track people where they are — across all devices and experiences they’re going through in this “complex environment. Cookies can’t be relied on anymore.”
And while tracking people across different devices is limited to digital, Franchet called the ability to track how digital is impacting foot traffic in brick-and-mortar stores one of the most transformative things happening right now.
“You can really measure the population that is exposed to the messaging and measure the lift. When it’s done well, it’s really practical,” he said, nothing that last holiday, Banana Republic managed to target a younger demographic with a six-times return on ad spent.
At the core of Facebook’s recommendation to brands, though, is to implement a combination of right and left brain. For him, the only way to execute any of the above strategies is to marry the creative nature of the content with the systematic approach of targeting and measurement. Together, Franchet believes this will drive business results.
As for the impending holiday shopping season, he predicts that there will be more retail and brand storytelling then ever — both static and video.
“You’ll see more and more short-form videos that actually link to performance branding. It’s not only building your brand, but it’s designed to move product both online and in stores,” Franchet said.
A narrow definition of e-commerce — one where a consumer goes to a Web site, purchases a product, pays online has it shipped to their home — comprises a small percentage of retail (averaging only seven to eight percent of sales). But Franchet urges marketers and consumers to think of e-commerce differently. They must embrace a broader definition of Web-enabled commerce, Franchet explained — one that estimates that 50 percent of all sales are influenced by some digital touchpoint. He said that in 2016 mobile will be critical, serving as a key enabler for purchases, no matter where they are happening.
“It’s a time when retailers and brands can connect with customers on their mobile devices and merchandise their products and measure the outcome. It’s amazing that we talk about the future of retail and the future of mobile, but really the future is here,” Franchet said. “One hundred percent of your customers are on mobile so it’s imperative to have a very strong mobile strategy going into holiday — and beyond. It’s not something that’s going away.”