Facebook Marketing Conference: What’s On Tap?

For the second time in less than 10 months, Facebook tomorrow will court Madison Avenue with an advertising-focused summit in New York. Last year’s conference was headlined by Facebook Global Marketing Solutions leaders Carolyn Everson, Jennifer Kattula, and Blake Chandlee. The company’s event on Wednesday will be keynoted by COO Sheryl Sandberg, starting at noon and running till 6 p.m.

Dubbed the first-ever fMC (short for Facebook Marketing Conference), the show’s schedule doesn’t include CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose speeches at the firm’s annual f8 developers conference have turned into online must-sees for the worldwide tech community. But sending Sandberg, the brand’s business community celebrity, appears to send a strong message to advertisers that they aren’t an afterthought.

“It’s the f8 for advertisers and marketers,” said Joe Ciarallo, a rep for Buddy Media. “During the developers conference, I think some of the marketing community was feeling left out. So this is Facebook’s way of reaching out to the advertising crowd.”

ClickZ News will report from the event at the American Museum of Natural History. Menlo Park, CA-based Facebook has been mum on specifics of what it plans to share with advertisers on this Leap Day, but here are a few possibilities:

  • Debut Brand Timelines. Facebook has continuously iterated what its brand pages can be and certainly still has work to do. Making the pages stickier, as it recently did for users with Timelines, could be paramount if it wants companies to continue to buy its on-site ads.
  • Unveil long-rumored mobile ads. Facebook’s recent S-1 filing for its initial public offering stated mobile disruption as a risk investors may want to consider. There’s no doubt that the digital giant desires to get out in front of monetizing the mobile space, as it competes with Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, and Twitter for ad dollars.
  • Introduce new premium ad units. Leaked Facebook documents claim upcoming ad units will produce more engagement, better recall, and a “significant increase in purchase intent.” Among other changes, when a person seeing the ad has Facebook friends who are fans of a brand’s page, the ads will expand to include social context about the friends.
  • Improve Page Insights. It’s only been five months since the metrics suite was revamped, but with product manager David Baser scheduled to lead one of tomorrow’s breakout sessions, it’s plausible that new tweaks could be revealed. Recently, marketers have groused about the suite’s long lag time for reporting.
  • Launch an ad network. This development seems highly unlikely – Zuckerberg would be on the slate for something this big, wouldn’t he? – but you never know. While Facebook has been adamant for years that it had no plans to release its version of Google AdSense, Wall Street investors in the coming months will be looking for possible avenues of monetization growth from the advertising-dependent Facebook. EMarketer last week estimated that Facebook’s 2012 ad sales would eclipse $5 billion.

When asked about what would hypothetically be the most important development, Shaun Quigley, a VP and digital director at ad agency Brunner, pointed to Timelines for brands.

“One top Timeline consideration is that a brand’s Facebook presence no longer must date to when it joined the site but can be represented with content populating its Timeline from throughout its history,” Quigley explained. “Brands, for example, can add an event for when they were introduced commercially, and literally tell the entire story of the brand. Also, from a pure look and feel perspective, brands have more visual power with timeline.”

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