Cannes, Lions-- CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes Facebook needs to do as good a job building out its advertising offerings as it has done with its developer platform.
Speaking at the Cannes Lions festival, where he was awarded Media Person of the Year, Zuckerberg told the audience to expect more robust tools for reaching Facebook's approximately 500 million monthly active users.
"It's a similar dynamic on marketer side as it is on developer side. We've built an A-class developer platform and we need to do the same for advertisers," he said.
He said any changes the company makes will support more creativity in the ad experience, though what exactly that means remains unclear.
"We think the ecosystem...is gong to be a lot better if we add more creative [elements] to it," he said. "The more you're able to customize and personalize the products you offer and the marketing you have, the more effective it's going to be."
Zuckerberg argued advertising on Facebook is "squarely out of the experimentation phase." He said Nike's recent decision to debut its World Cup ads on Facebook had led to the rapid addition of 3 million connections to the brand's Pages. And he cited Disney/Pixar's decision to support "Toy Story 3" ticket sales on Facebook as an example of a brand helping users connect with each other.
On the subject of audience growth, Zuckerberg said the company hasn't expanded its user base at a consistent rate. Zuckerberg claims there are only four large countries - Japan, Russia, China, and Korea - where Facebook is not the leading social network. "It tips at different countries at different times," he said.
During the hour-long Q&A session led by AdAge Editor Abbey Klaassen, Zuckerberg stayed mostly on message and seemed at ease. That was a sharp contrast to his jittery, sweaty on-stage appearance at the recent D8 conference, when Walt Mossberg grilled him about Facebook's privacy policies. Also unlike that appearance, Zuckerberg had traded his trademark hoodie for more Mediterranean attire - namely a black t-shirt.
In the wake of the D8 debacle, some have suggested Zuckerberg consider stepping down or assuming a senior product role while naming a CEO who can focus on business issues. Today he rejected the idea of bifurcating management.
"So much of building companies is now building a product. Everything flows from the technology," he said.
Follow Zachary Rodgers on Twitter at @zachrodgers.
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Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects.
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