My co-founders and I met in the south of France to attend Cannes Lions a few weeks ago.
We were invited by Unilever Foundry 50, and given our recent funding announcement, we felt a little bit of sun wouldn’t hurt us. It’s been a couple weeks since our promenade along the Cannes waterfront, and now that the rosé is out of my system, it’s time to recap a few insights from the event.
Cannes Lions is a fantastic gathering. Think Mad Men meets CES: executives fly into one single spot for a week, struggle with the french they learned in high school, and put on tons of sun block. There is Uber for helicopters, Yachts from the Cayman Islands, and everyone wears shorts.
This year, though, it was a bit different. Cannes Lions, which has traditionally been an “Oscars of advertising,” included a technology/innovation track where technology companies and entrepreneurs gave talks and exhibited their technologies.
One company stood above everyone else.
One company deployed flawless execution: they had best hotel, best beach location, and had the best presence.
That company is Facebook.
Hats off to the Facebook events team for a second-to-none attention to detail. What’s interesting, though, is that just a couple of years ago, Facebook was not in Cannes. Last year Facebook sent people, but this year they had a massive and impressive presence.
Everyone else—the big agencies, Adobe, Salesforce, and Microsoft—had relatively low-key presences (except, maybe Google). It’s not hard to imagine that these companies had probably invested in a similar size presence that in previous years, and did fine. Now, Facebook is trying to take over the key Advertising festival of the year.
We believe Facebook is steadily building the marketing cloud of the future:
1. They’re building an agency: They’ve been investing in creative and account management teams that support agencies and brands. They’ve bought agencies in the past as well.
2. They’re building an AdTech stack: in a mobile cookie-less world, Atlas can provide effective and reliable persona identification, inside and outside Facebook. Brands will be more effective at targeting. They are building their own segmentation and retargeting engines and new ad units.
3. They’re building the alternative to email: Messaging Marketing will be the next big brand marketing channel, slowly replacing transactional email. Messenger for businesses is a first step in that direction. And Facebook’s decision to open Fb Messenger to everyone (not only facebook account holders) is a signal in that direction.
4. They have the largest media properties: with Instagram and Facebook healthily growing in visual content creation and consumption, they have the reach and consumer attention to deploy effectively any marketing campaigns. And, they successfully pulled the largest bait and switch strategies of all time.
In our opinion, 2015 will be regarded as the year Facebook became a marketing cloud.
Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, and Adobe: you have a new competitor in town, and it’s moving fast. Very fast.