Global head of Facebook's marketing partners program on seven marketing musts

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Steve Irvine describes the company's focus on creativity, data, measurement and mobile

How often do you check Facebook? If you're like most mobile users, the answer is 14 times a day.

Think you're addicted? You're not alone. The social network has 1.44 billion active users, according to March 2015 data, and 936 million of them check Facebook every day. There are also four billion video views on Facebook every day, and one out of every five minutes consumers spend on a smartphone is dedicated to Facebook or its acquired photo-sharing app Instagram.

From a marketing standpoint, Steve Irvine is one of the people responsible for progressing Facebook's growth. Irvine is the global head of Facebook's Marketing Partners program — an initiative launched in December 2009 as the Preferred Developer Consultant program and then dubbed the Preferred Marketing Developer program in April 2012. As the current leader of Facebook's Marketing Partners, he works with marketing technology companies to optimize the social platform's advertising capabilities.

"Our goal at the end of the day is really to make Facebook the best place for marketers to grow their businesses using these technology-enabled partnerships," he said.

So what is Facebook focusing on this coming year? Four words: Creativity. Data. Measurement. Mobile. I had the chance to sit down with Irvine at ONE Teradata Marketing Festival in Las Vegas last week and discuss how the social network is tying all four into its strategy. Here's what Irvine had to say, as well as the seven Facebook marketing lessons that I took away from that lucid conversation.

1. Targeting requires creativity to be truly effective.
I can target you, but if the content that I'm giving you is still fairly generic and not relevant to you, it actually negates all of the value of the targeting. Trying to find ways to deliver more personalized content and creative, especially in rich formats like video, can be challenging for brands that are used to doing one big TV spot. Being able to change the tools that they used, even change the way that their agency thinks about creating that creative in the first place, has started to be — and continues to be — a big focus for us.

2. Video is a powerful tool, but marketers are still figuring out how to best leverage it.
There's definitely a lot of hype now around video. We've now got four billion video views a day, which is just a ridiculous amount of video that's being consumed on Facebook right now. It makes sense because [Facebook is] a discovery platform. ... Even if I'm just snacking — like I have five minutes in line at a Starbucks, and I'm bored; and I want to check in on what's happening in my life — I go there, and I can discover really interesting things.

There's amazing opportunity there for video to deliver the sight, sound, and motion to those people and [provide] that arresting creative. I recently heard it called thumb-stopping creative, which I think is a great way to think about it. [It's] when you're going through a feed, scrolling through, and you stop somebody, get them to pay attention and be interested in your work, for example. A lot of clients are trying to solve for that. We're early.;

There are great examples, and there are folks that have definitely not figured it out yet. But that type of experience is one that clients really want to be able to figure out quickly because it gives them scale, as well as a really relevant way to stay connected to the customer.

3. Marketers are competing with, well, everyone.
This historical model of "As long as I'm slightly better at marketing or our creative is slightly more relevant than our competitors, I'm going to win" misses the bigger picture. That's not who you're competing with. You're competing with my best friend who just got married and my sister's kid who just started walking — a lot of these big moments in my life. That's a different bar than the one that we set before. That requires some change management on the brand side.

4. That means marketers need to raise the bar to meet consumers' content expectations.
The ambition has always been, for us at Facebook, to make sure that the commercial content that you see in your newsfeed is at the same level as content [and] stories that you'd see from friends. It's a bit ambitious. But when you see a really well-targeted, high-quality ad in your feed that's relevant to you, it does meet the bar....

Basketball is my favorite sport. [So] I might see an ad from Nike, Adidas, or somebody that's just a great piece of creative. Maybe it connects with me; I want to share it; I want to talk about it; it's right in my feed. It's just as valuable as a lot of things that my friends would [post]. If I had a feed full of that type of content, I would love it. I wouldn't need to be able to distinguish between the two. It would give me the same pleasure if I go through [either one], and it would totally fit and meet the bar of the personal updates that I'm seeing from my friends. That's our ambition. I don't think that we always get there, and I think some brands have gotten there faster than others. But the ambition for us at Facebook is to keep that quality bar really high.

5. Mobile shouldn't be treated as a separate channel (especially since it offers many of the same capabilities as other channels).
Mobile should not be viewed as a discreet channel. That's the thing that people get wrong, too. Mobile is a consumer behavior. It's not like one other thing you do. It actually could mirror the properties of any existing [channel]. If the reason that you do TV is because you want sight, sound, and motion at scale, you can get that with mobile. The reason that you do email and some digital is because you can get very targeted and reach people in real-time; you can hit that value proposition in mobile. Why do you do radio? Because you want people on-the-go, out of their homes. ... That's the one thing that people get wrong. It's not a vertical pillar in your plan. It should probably be this horizontal transformative thing that actually changes the way that you think about your entire mix.

6. Marketers need to consider the entire mobile experience.
People really need to think about the mobile experience. Part A of the mobile experience is that it's dominated by apps, not Web. Part B is that the real estate [within apps] on the phone is very constructed from what we're used to in digital. So you get a richer experience in...apps, but less space to be able to operate in. That's what is driving a lot of feeds where you can still get a full screen, versus a banner ad, which is [an] even smaller, microscopic thing at the bottom [and] is really difficult to get [consumers] to break through with those formats — even though they were the standard when you look at it on your computer for a long period of time. So [it's] just understanding that [mobile is] a pretty significant change for a consumer and we need to make sure that we understand that reality if we're going to be able to plan for it.

7. Consumers vote with their attention.
Mobile people vote with their attention. ... Understanding where they're spending their time and how they're spending their time is really critical upfront to be able to build anything of substance on that front.

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