Facebook's Everson: Agencies lagging on mobile creative

Carolyn Everson (pictured), vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook, said advertising agencies need to think mobile first and get better at creating "thumb-stopping" creative, at the 4A's annual Transformation conference this morning.

Agency habits haven't shifted along with consumer behavior. "If you were to watch all seven seasons of ‘Mad Men' — 92 episodes, 22 times — that is still less than the time you and I will spend on our phones this year, which is about 2,000 hours," she said during a conversation with Bill Koenigsberg, president, chief executive and founder of Horizon Media. "The consumer has moved to mobile, but I do not think that the industry is at a point where it is planning creative in such a way that puts mobile first. I think we have a long way to go. We have work to do."

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To encourage more mobile-first thinking, Everson suggested that CMOs follow the example of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. After he declared his plan to transform Facebook into a mobile-first company, he immediately demanded to see mobile solutions first from an engineer. "If you really want things to change, do what Mark did," she said. "When the team comes in to pitch the campaign say, ‘Can I see it first on the mobile phone, then you can show me the TV.' You can change culture from the top if the leaders ask for the right thing and demand it in the brief."

It's an education process, and Facebook is learning too, said Everson, sharing the latest stats regarding video viewership on the social media platform. There are 100 million hours of video watched a day, most of which is viewed in social feeds. The average viewing time is 1.7 seconds. On desktop alone, that number increases to 2.4 seconds.

"Consumers are in this rapid-consumption mode, which means we have to rethink what are we going to do for thumb-stopping creative, to get consumers to stop and pay attention," Everson said.

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Facebook has found that 43% of people who watch the first three seconds of a video will stay for 10 seconds. And if they watch the 10 seconds, they'll watch the full clip. To create engagement, agencies need to rethink the creative approach. "We're learning. Every time we learn we share. Agencies are learning and clients are learning," she said. "We have to think mobile as if it's 1955 and we're running the first few TV ads."

Mobile creative is not the only area in which Everson believes the industry could stand to improve. "I don't think we're in a good place at all" regarding gender equality, said Everson. The advertising industry, however, is not unique. "There is not a single country in the world that has more than 6% of its CEOs as women. We don't have 50% heads of state; 50% representation in our congress; we do not have 50% representation in any industry in senior leadership roles," she said.

"The needle hasn't moved, and the data is even more depressing," Everson continued. "Not only are we not moving into getting women into senior leadership, when they are," they are paid less than their male counterparts, she said.

"We have a problem. The ad industry, and even Facebook, has work to do," she said. The number of female employees at Facebook are generally strong at junior levels, but drops in senior ranks.  

Among the remedies Everson recommended was unconscious bias training. The data shows that when a name at the top of the same resume is female, and there is a bullet point noting that the person is a member of the PTA, that person is far less likely to get hired, she said. "It's worse if you are an African-American candidate," she said. "These are major problems, and we have to be willing to talk about them."

 "I am a big believer in unconscious-bias training. It makes you look right in the mirror and say ok, where are the biases," she said. "There are biases across gender, religion, race, ethnicity. All forms of diversity are not doing well."

One thing everyone can do, Everson said, is work to create change with every hire. If candidates for a job all look the same, "it's upon us as leaders to push back" and ask to see more diverse applicants. "They exist," she said. "There is really great talent. And by the way, we are losing the benefit of the diverse thinking that we need."

This story originally appeared in Campaign.