Brands should take the visual web seriously, says Facebook's EMEA boss

Facebook: consumers share billions of branded stickers
Facebook: consumers share billions of branded stickers

Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook's EMEA chief, has laid out the company's vision for an immersive, visual-based web that makes communications easier in an increasingly frantic world.

Speaking at the Guardian Changing Media Summit, where she was described as the most powerful media figure in Europe, Mendelsohn said the growth of seemingly trivial communications such as cartoon stickers had serious implications for brands.

She pointed to the company’s partnership with NBC Universal in 2013, involving stickers showing characters from Despicable Me 2. The sticker pack was shared more than two billion times. In general, stickers get 350 million shares per day on Facebook.

Mendelsohn said: "That’s two billion instances of people using brands to express an emotion in a conversation with a friend.

"Think of this as the next iteration of LOL, where images have replaced words as a way of telegraphing emotions to a private audience."

She described stickers and other forms of visual communications as the modern version of hieroglyphics – a language that transcends borders and is highly shareable.

One reason these hieroglyphics might be replacing a text-based web is consumers’ increasingly "breakneck" pace of life, Mendelsohn said. Since the human brain processes images faster than words, consumers can handle more information if most of it is visual.

Given many consumers check their phones multiple times an hour, it’s in brands’ interests to make information digestible.

She said: "At Facebook, we’re seeing first-hand how mobile platforms of visual, succinct communications are seeing explosive growth."

She pointed to Facebook-owned Instagram, which has more than 300 million users sharing 70 million photos a day. 

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