Marne Levine and her lieutenant, Nicola Mendelsohn, have a tough job ahead of them.
What new Meta advertising managersthey have to fuel the platform’s growth as it continues to weather the storm that comes with Apple’s privacy changes and competition from newer platforms like TikTok.
This, while analysts expect Meta to record zero growth in the second quarter, an unprecedented event for the company.
Levine was named chief business officer last year, a new role at Facebook’s parent company. Mendelsohn, vice president of the Global Business Group, leads advertising sales.
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A key part of their work is rebuild the trust of advertisers on a platform damaged by years of user metering issues and scandals.
Yet a year after Levine took office, several advertising executives say he’s taking it easy for now.
The pair face stark comparisons with former Head of Advertising Carolyn Everson and Meta’s outgoing COO Sheryl Sandberg, who helped turn the company into an advertising juggernaut by developing close relationships with advertisers and leading them from hand while the company went through all kinds of controversies.
Some advertisers say that while they used to deal regularly with Everson before, today they hardly hear from the new management. And that, those who have them.
Levine and Mendelsohn were a big hit at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June. A senior executive from a global agency said they met Mendelsohn for the first time there, but the nature of the meeting was informal, not business-oriented. Mendelsohn joined his new position last October.
“I receive much more contact from the competition than from Metasays an executive.
A second executive from this same agency affirms that the lack of Meta movement could harm the company in its relationship with brands, which are already looking for alternative places to invest their advertising budget.
This is further motivated by a series of changes from Apple that are affecting advertisers’ ability to target and measure the effectiveness of their ads, a key selling point for Meta.
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“In the end, it’s all about acquire spaces that work for our clientsand Meta for now is too big and unavoidable,” says this exec. “However, over time, especially if Meta loses some ground in general, this could hit them.”
“Meta has a strong and long-standing senior leadership team in the business, deep relationships and experience leading our business and building products that bring value to businesses,” says a Meta spokesperson in response to this story. “We have the utmost confidence in our leaders, including Marne and Nicola, to drive the company and the business forward.”
Levine is relatively unknown to advertisers
Levine, formerly COO of Instagram, came to advertising relatively recently, leading some to question internally about her ability to earn the trust of advertisers, say two former Meta executives.
She is also close friends with Sandberg, with whom she worked in the White House of the Clinton administration. There are those who believe that this friendship influenced her to obtain the position that she holds today.
“It was always assumed that she was Sheryl’s best friend and that’s why she got the job, but that she wasn’t as well known or accepted by the industry as Carolyn,” says one of the former Meta executives. “So when Marne was promoted to a position that people expected Carolyn to get, she assumed that she was influenced by Sheryl.”
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Meta denies that claim saying the company underwent a full hiring process for the CBO position.
The company also notes that as COO of Instagram, Levine oversaw the company’s monetization, and prior to that she was the VP of Partnerships which included overseeing advertising services.
Michael Kassan, CEO and president of advertising consultancy MediaLink, explains that it will take time for Levine to build the relationships in the ad industry that Everson did.
“Carolyn built these relationships over years and years,” says Kassan. “I think it’s too early to have an opinion one way or the other, but I think the market has welcomed Nicola’s leadership and understood that Marne is new to this industry and learning.”
Mendelsohn has more experience with advertisers, having been Vice President of the company’s EMEA Business and working early in her career for some of the top agencies like BBH and Gray London.
BBDO President and CEO Andrew Robinson, who is part of the Meta Client Council, made up of major advertisers and founded by Everson, has said that Everson groomed Mendelsohn for her role as vice president of the Global Business Group. . Meta is a BBDO client.
“Nicola had the benefit of working for Carolynso he was able to observe the way it worked,” Robinson said, adding that it has kept him as informed about Meta’s plans with Meta announcements as Everson.
Another senior agency executive has revealed that Mendelsohn has been a regular contact for him who also tends to be candid when it comes to addressing advertisers’ concerns about issues such as Apple’s privacy changes.
“In the past, when these questions were answered, it seemed like there was a script,” says the executive. “But Nicola is pushing for a more candid, less scripted culture.”
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On the other hand, some ad agency executives are confused about the upcoming Meta reorganization.
The sales representatives talked about her just a month ago, but they didn’t give them much information or tell them if their contacts with this department are going to change or not.
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Adding to the confusion, Meta has announced plans to remake its identity around the metaverse and stop relying on advertising.
Leaders like Mendelsohn have talked about using Meta’s Oculus VR headset as a way to step into the metaverse and ask brands how they’re preparing for virtual worlds.
But some ad buyers explain on the other hand that Meta has been silent on how the metaverse will incorporate advertising.
Meanwhile, new players in the space like TikTok and Amazon have been building their ad sales teams and they have made a great effort to attract new advertisers.
TikTok hasn’t stood still, waging a fierce battle against rivals like Meta-owned Instagram, copying features like the ability for its videos to disappear after 24 hours.
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With it, it has commanded the attention of Gen Z, prompting Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg to warn his employees of a “unprecedented level of competition“by TikTok.
Analysts forecast that Meta will lose ad share for the first time in its history for a number of reasons, including its longstanding reputation problems and Apple’s changes.
On the other hand, advertising agency executives add that Meta’s opacity in matters such as the company’s strategy in relation to the metaverse and future reorganizations could scare off advertisers.
“There is a growing fear and nervousness about the dependency that exists today on Meta,” says one of them. “I don’t know if we can expect big changes in spending policies. I also don’t know if the alternatives are clear yet. I do know that companies are asking questions.”
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Facebook’s new advertising managers are leaving the tech giant defenseless against rivals like TikTok