Facebook Exec: Ads Are Opening Act For Page Apps

Facebook exec Mike D’Arcy acknowledged advertising creatives have asked him for advice on how to overcome the design confines of the social site’s relatively small display units. The director of global creative solutions suggested they look at the ads as a gateway to brand pages, apps, and other Facebook elements that can entail more creativity.

“I tell them to think of the platform as a stage to do something important,” he said, while speaking Wednesday morning at GroupM’s “What’s Next” conference in New York. “And basically the ads are [the starting point] in terms of getting to the show.”

Earlier in his presentation, D’Arcy – who came aboard the social giant from Time Warner in March – described four international brands that had high-level success with their Facebook apps.

In the Netherlands, Nike’s Take Mokum app (also for iPhone/Android) allowed users to trace their jogging patterns in Amsterdam on a virtual map, while encouraging them to choose routes that would manifest creative designs. Put together by Amsterdam-based creative agency …,staat, the goal was to create an urban imprint for the sneakers brand. The effort entailed a storefront meeting place for participants, and the space included large-scale interactive views of the coolest-looking runs (think skull imagery and the like). More than 9,200 joggers participated in an offline activation that utilized the brand’s Netherlands Facebook page as the online campaign hub.

groupm-story-artIn D’Arcy’s native New Zealand,  soap opera “Shortland Street” tapped agency Colenso BBDO to keep the program top-of-mind during its month-long hiatus from the airwaves. In an initiative dubbed “Start Your Summer Fling,” fans of the soap could use a Facebook app to start a faux romance with its characters. In the automated marketing program, fans could watch videos, view photos, and read a stream of comments, and even receive emails from a character. Eventually, the fan and character would have to break up. “You’re great. It’s an old cliché,” said one of the emails. “But basically it’s not you, it’s me.” Shortland Street’s page “likes” lifted 31 percent during the month compared to the prior 30-day period, while overall Facebook page participation jumped 200 percent.

European fashion magazine Flair created a Facebook app around the idea that women are mostly inspired to purchase by what is worn by other women they know. It allowed users to tag blouses, skirts, pants, and accessories worn by Facebook friends, as well as post questions to them about the articles. All answered “fashion tags” were automatically added to a Flair gallery on Facebook. Some items have been featured in the print publication’s weekly editions. The program was created by Belgium agency Duval Guillaume Modem. D’Arcy didn’t disclose results.

Huggies was looking to gain market share in Hong Kong. Under the direction of Ogilvy & Mather and Kimberly-Clark, they asked moms to post pictures of their babies to the brand’s Facebook page via an app. The 60 photos receiving the most “likes” would be selected for a collage to appear on the side of a branded public transportation bus. In a matter of weeks, Huggies picked up 120,000 likes/fans. According to Facebook’s new Friends of Fans metric, the brand was now able to reach up to 7 million users of the social site. And the number of photos submitted was overwhelming. So the marketing team rented out a 30-foot space in a Hong Kong subway station for a collage of all baby pictures submitted.

The Facebook exec said the app-based campaigns were excellent examples of Facebook marketing because they were “relevant, useful, and engaging.”

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