Facebook Director of Ads Engineering Andrew Bosworth Talks Shop


AndrewBosworth650If you want to know about the technology behind Facebook advertising, you go to Boz, otherwise known as director of ads engineering Andrew Bosworth, who oversees ads, pages, tools, infrastructure, delivery, optimization, data partnerships, insights and analytics for the social network. Bosworth sat down for a question-and-answer session for the Facebook for Business page, and highlights follow.

On organizational changes over the past couple of years, he said:

There’s been a great deal of focus on Facebook becoming a mobile-first company since 2012 and what that took. We used to have a separate mobile team, which was really a bad thing because we’d be developing products without any instinct for mobile. To fix that, we integrated mobile into every product team.

Now we’re doing the same thing with ads, where every team has to own its ads strategy. So the News Feed team owns News Feed ads; the platform team owns application ads; the Instagram team owns Instagram ads. And that’s a big shift. Ads went from being a second-class citizen to something that everybody considers as they’re developing their products.

As a team, we’re very happy that ads help provide the revenue to run and grow Facebook, but we also have our own ambitions. Facebook’s overall mission is to make the world more open and connected, but the connections we’ve historically focused on are the ones you already know about — friends or products or businesses you already know. But some of the connections you make will be with things you’ve never heard of before, and ads are a tremendously valuable tool for making that kind of connection. The mission of the ads team, as it connects to the global mission, is to make meaningful connections between people and businesses.

Bosworth offered more details on what he meant by “meaningful connections”:

It’s simple to describe but hard to execute. On one side there is demand generation. You can’t possibly hope to provide a meaningful experience to people on Facebook unless you offer enough experiences to choose from. If someone comes to Facebook and only has one ad targeted to them, they’re not going to get a tremendously meaningful experience. So we’ve got to continue to build tools that marketers love and have them constantly coming back to the platform.

On the flip side is relevance. You really have to understand the consumer — what they want, what they care about, what are they interacting with, what are they likely to appreciate or not appreciate. We want to make sure people are having a great experience because that’s good for advertisers, too. So we have to really make sure that when we have a great supply of advertisements to choose from, we’re able to pick the right one. I think we’re pretty good at it today, but that’s an endless stream of work — there’s unlimited depth there.

He also spoke about small and midsized businesses on the social network:

One nice thing about Facebook advertising is that the tools are relatively universal — whether you’re an agency, a brand advertiser or a small business — and we really try to look after all of them.

One of the things that small businesses are doing well today is thinking about the page as a presence, and the tools that we’ve built out for that — like the Pages Manager app on mobile devices — have had a huge impact. We now offer quite a few tools for small businesses through pages. Some of those are publishing tools, some are advertising tools and some are insights tools that help businesses understand what’s working and what’s not working for them.

On the rapid emergence of mobile advertising, he added:

No matter how fast you think mobile is happening, it’s happening faster than you think. The changes happening now are huge. Think about when TV came on the scene in the 1950s and 60s: it took decades before global TV spend surpassed global newspaper spend. Today that strikes us as crazy — of course TV should be a bigger spend than newspaper; it’s sight, sound and motion.

Well mobile is sight, sound, motion and interaction.

It’s everything that everybody needs in one device. It’s targeted, it’s relevant, it’s amazing. And it’s where everyone is spending their time worldwide. It’s the most universal platform we’ve ever found.

For much more from Bosworth, please see the Facebook for Business post.

Readers: What did you think of the comments from Boz?