Big Boulder: Measuring Engagement on Facebook with Sean Bruich

An interview with Sean Bruich, head of measurement and Graham Mudd, head of measurement market development both at Facebook, about measuring engagement on Facebook.

Sean Bruich and Graham Mudd of Facebook

“Something’s wrong when the guys at Facebook are more dressed up than everyone else here,” – Chris Moody said before introducing Sean Bruich and Graham Mudd of Facebook.

The highly anticipated talk kicked off with the measurement issues marketers face online, specifically with Facebook. As Sean put, Facebook believes in solving measurement issues that every marketer is facing and allowing them to understand how online media can work for their businesses. As many marketers and brands attempt to brave the social media marketing ecosystem, it’s important to educate them on how this ecosystem can impact their business on a bottom-line level. Sean clearly put, it’s in everyone’s best interests to solve this problem and it’s very much at the forefront of Facebook’s plans. As a platform company, Facebook believes syndicating information can propel their business, however they want marketers to be able to engage with other platforms as well.

But how do companies attempt to navigate this ecosystem? Graham says it’s all about specialization. Facebook possesses a deep level of it that allows for truly deep measurement. Graham also states, “We can’t do it on our own.” Both Graham and Sean emphasized balancing innovation with standardization. Facebook wants and needs the help of other companies like Gnip to tell them what information they want to see and how they could use it better. But it’s not just about online. Marketers want to know about its offline effect:  how it incorporates into their business plan down the line and how it affects their bottom line.

Sean says traditional measurement hasn’t kept up with the technology that consumers are using. The big questions aren’t being answered. While developer communities are working towards that very quickly, there is still room for improvement on how ROI and marketing spend online fit into the marketing mix.  As in industry, we’re not answering the big questions that marketers need to know to justify spend and a presence online.

Standardization is the huge challenge. As Graham put, “Innovation is hard for the people who have to react to it.” It’s really hard to deviate from standards that brands have in place. While brands may want to jump into the deep end with online media, it’s difficult to take those chances on something that is so far removed from what they’re accustomed to. Some people who might benefit from innovation aren’t in a place to justify the changes.

So how does Facebook build this new set of standards? Investments. Facebook wants to invest in the people who can build new measurement platforms, and it’s not just about Facebook. They want cross-platform solutions for marketers to use to optimize and understand their consumers and online media. “We do believe strongly in the platform; we believe strongly in the user side but also in the developer side,” said Sean. “The data is massive and there’s a lot of expectations around privacy, both user and marketer privacy. From a stability and access perspective we understand a lot, but we still need to hear from our users and marketers.”

While tough questions where asked, Graham says it’s not important to focus on why brands like GM pulled their Facebook advertising, but rather on the larger issue. Facebook believes it’s their responsibility to provide companies the insight and direction that actually has impact. Facebook isn’t the same as television and shouldn’t be approached with the same strategy. Whether or not that’s why GM pulled out, Facebook wouldn’t elaborate, but it’s a clear indication of the importance of measurement that companies at Big Boulder could potentially help to solve.

Facebook was tight lipped about product plans, but real time insights are important to FB. They want marketers to be able to see data as it happens. But there are challenges with this. From a measurement perspective, it’s not clear that marketers will even be able to take advantage of this data. As developers, Facebook wants to solve those problems too; how do we enable faster decision making through the tools they build? On a deeper level, Facebook wants to enable marketers to make decisions on a day-to-day basis, but it’s hard to have the level of intimate understanding of the data. If Facebook can get this feedback from it’s core marketers, they can better serve marketers and the end consumers.

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