Facebook wants to be the go-to resource when it comes to all things advertising and ecommerce -- for businesses large and small. That was the pitch Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gave Tuesday at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual MIXX Conference and Expo, during Advertising Week in New York City. She participated in a panel discussion and press Q+A with Netscape co-founder, early Facebook investor and popular tech VC Marc Andreessen.
Sandberg cited Best Western as an example of Facebook's advertising potential. This spring, the hotel company created a Facebook app that allowed people to put together their "dream vacation" and share the app with their friends and family. The result? Best Western's sales jumped 20 percent during the period, Sandberg said.
But small businesses are also among Facebook's priorities, with approximately 7 million small companies using the network actively each month and about 3 million posting weekly or more. When it comes to advertising, small businesses often are looking for niche buyers in very specific locations, according to Sandberg. "No other platform is set for that like Facebook is," she said.
Facebook has been busy in the past few weeks rolling out a number of new advertising and sales solutions for businesses. Among them:
- Facebook Ad Exchange (FBX), a new way of purchasing Facebook ads through real-time bidding.
- Facebook Gifts, which allows users to send gifts to friends and family directly from birthday reminders or their timelines. A user picks a gift, pays with a credit card, the friend supplies his or her address and the gift is shipped.
Users sharing products, services and special offers with the people they know on Facebook can drive sales because it's done by "real, authentic interactions," Sandberg said.
While some argue that Facebook users are too unsure about the company's privacy policies to hand over credit-card information, Sandberg stressed that Facebook does not sell user information. "There are 235 million gamers using credit cards to play games over Facebook," she said. "Those numbers are already big."
Have you tried any of Facebook's advertising tools? What were the results? Let us know in the comments below.