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From Facebook to Meta: social giant’s Nicola Mendelsohn on marketing in the metaverse

From Facebook to Meta: social giant’s Nicola Mendelsohn on marketing in the metaverse
Written by publishing team

Following Thursday’s announcement that Facebook is rebranding to Meta as part of its efforts to transition from a social media company to a metaverse, The Drum has followed Nicola Mendelsohn, who left her position as Vice President of EMEA to become Vice President of the global business group Meta. Mendelsohn explains how advertising will fit into the metaverse, how the company is rebuilding trust amid recent scandals, and why commerce has become an integral part of the Meta business.

Obviously, the big news is Meta. Talk to us about where marketers and advertisers fit into the metaverse.

[We’re] Laying out a very clear vision – a vision of over 10 years – about where the company’s future is heading and how we will be part of building the metaverse and allowing people to connect. With all of these things on the way, there’s a great opportunity for different companies to participate and for advertisers to participate, because no single company is going to own the metaverse. It’s going to be a collection of all the different companies that will come together – different companies, different entrepreneurs, different startups that will come together to create the next new computing platform.

I’m already seeing different advertisers getting involved in the early days of the metaverse, which is where we are today. I’m thinking about the things that brands are doing in Augmented Reality (AR) with Spark VR, in the Ray-Ban store on Instagram… You can actually go in, you can see all the different Ray-Bans, you can try on them and see which styles work for you. Brands like Charlotte Tilbury use different filters – [users] You can experiment with different lipsticks and eye shadows. These are some of the really early things that, from existing products, will start to evolve and build parts of the future of the metaverse.

There’s been a fair amount of negative press around the brand lately, from Wall Street Journal reports regarding Instagram’s effects on teens’ mental health to recent accusations of whistleblowers. But through it all, it looks like the company’s earnings haven’t really been affected – it still performs well. During this time, how do you think about gaining the trust of consumers and partners, and in particular, ensuring that advertisers feel comfortable spending their advertising money with Meta?

This is a really important question. And it’s something I’ve been in conversations about with our partners and advertisers in recent weeks. They recognize and see the effort, but what they also see, and much more important, is the amount of investment we’ve made. We’re on track to spend more than $5 billion this year on safety and security, and we now employ more than 40,000 people. But it’s not just an investment, it’s actually what happens as a result of an investment [that matters], And [our partners are] Seeing real and tangible results. This is partly because of the work that we do and that many of them are involved in – through things like working with the Media Classification Board and auditing.

I don’t think there is any other company that invests as much or is open about it and sees the results we’re seeing. This does not mean that we are satisfied. I want to be really clear that we will continue to make sure that we invest in this area. We will not settle for where we are. We want to keep moving. These are the kinds of conversations we have.

How does Meta think about privacy now and balance consumer protection with advertisers’ needs?

As we look to the future of advertising, it’s clear that the ways digital advertising collects and uses data will continue to evolve. In fact, we support – and have for some time – giving people more control over their data and how it is used in order to improve ad relevance. So we’re building a more personalized and less data-driven advertising ecosystem, while ensuring a level playing field for businesses large and small alike. We invest in privacy-improving technologies, based on advanced statistical technologies, that reduce the data we collect, process and share, and help protect data at various stages of the data lifecycle. This is a work in progress for us. It’s not something that, you know, you tap your fingers, and it’s done. I’ll continue to make sure we have very thoughtful conversations about it, but it will take some time to continue developing. There will be more [come] Next year.

What are some of the key trends you see now and what are some of the areas of growth you plan to invest in going forward?

We’re going to have a really big holiday season for the trade. We’re bringing #BuyBlack Friday. This past holiday season, we had 15 million people follow us on #BuyBlack Friday across the United States. We are now going global by programming in other countries through the direct shopping segments of black owned businesses. There will be groups that will be available weekly, starting in November. There will also be gift guides, which are curation of products across US-owned businesses from all different categories – beauty, home and fashion.

[More broadly,] We’ll see more and more [movement in commerce] As a result of what has happened over the past eighteen months. Many of us are shopping online in ways we hadn’t seen before the pandemic. People go from being utilitarian, like, “I want it, I looked for it, I got it” to being so much more into a world of inspiration and discovery. We see it not only in trade, but in [areas like entertainment]. Maybe we can sit down for a while and talk about what we’re watching on Netflix. We have the curated discovery experience through things like Netflix and Spotify. for this reason [focus on] Inspiration and Discovery is a true vision in terms of how to accelerate all of our work, to build new and exciting experiences for people when they shop.

At the same time, we are building strong business tools for companies, to be able, in the end, to build a stronger economy for all. Because if you can reach and inspire your important clients, it will be good both ways. It started with Facebook Stores last year. We now have 1.2 million stores and 300 million visitors each month. We have started rolling out the Stores tab in more and more countries. We have immersive formats, we have product tags, we have drops and stickers and live shopping, and then of course AR and VR. I mean, there are many different areas. [Commerce] It is an area that we will see more and more. People want a smoother customer journey, and hopefully this is where you see it. You learn about it, you decide to buy, you pay for it and then you arrive. This is the vision.

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