In an exclusive interview with CNBC, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg touched on several topics, including the social network’s initial public offering and share price slump; the company’s mobile issues; skepticism over advertising on social networks; new business opportunities for Facebook; privacy; and the economy.
Here are some of the highlights from Sandberg’s interview with CNBC:
IPO And Stock Price
We’re obviously disappointed and really surprised by what happened in the IPO. We’re taking that energy and really focusing on proving to the world that we can continue to grow our business, continue to grow our users and their engagement, and build a great company, not just for a quarter, but hopefully for decades and decades.
Obviously, employees are disappointed that the stock price has gone down. I think what we’ve done since the IPO is continue to really focus on building that business, and I think we’re executing better and better.
Sandberg told CNBC Facebook’s new mobile applications are “boosting engagement” more than the social network’s desktop service, adding that mobile users are 20 percent more likely to return to Facebook on any given day. She also said sponsored stories are eight times more engaging on mobile news feeds than on the right-hand side of the Facebook homepage, adding that although the social network just rolled out mobile ads this year, they are “going really well.”
Skepticism Over Social Advertising
Despite the high-profile departure of General Motors from Facebook’s advertising rolls, Sandberg said advertising on the social network is “incredibly effective,” adding that Facebook has conducted 60 studies over the past year on how its ads impact online and offline sales, and 70 percent of those studies showed a return on ad spend of three times or better, with 49 percent coming in at five times or better.
On the topic of ad targeting, she said of Facebook’s narrow targeting capabilities:
That difference alone is tremendously valuable in terms of making marketers get the bang for their buck that they need.
New Business Opportunities
We’ve heard from businesses all over the world that they want more from us. There are things they’d pay for they really want us to provide. So it’s an area that we’re currently starting to explore.
There’s been a promise in the market that search could become more social that we don’t think has been met. When you’re looking for information, the question is: Who do you want it from? Do you want it from the wisdom of crowds, or do you want it from the wisdom of friends? Our answer to the information that’s most relevant for users is really about friends.
Privacy and trust is a cornerstone of our business. I think people do believe that we have an incentive to violate users’ trust to build our ad business. That’s exactly wrong. We have every incentive to protect our users’ trust, so that we can build an advertising business that’s very protective of the information they share. That’s the whole business.
It’s possible that the economy could go either way. I think we’re in a tremendous period of uncertainty. The “fiscal cliff,” when the Bush-era tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts kick in, is obviously a concern that’s shared broadly in the economy. And everyone in business worries about how it’s going to impact them.