Meta is hosting its inaugural marketing summit in India this month. The event is meant for senior business leaders and will specifically address questions around profitability and growth in the changing macroeconomic environment.
Storyboard 18 caught up with Sandeep Bhushan, the outgoing Director and Head of GMS, India at Meta and spoke to him about Reels, the Instagram algorithm and the impact of current macroeconomic factors on businesses. Excerpts:
Tell us about the inaugural Meta Marketing Summit happening this month. What is this event all about?
Meta connects communities and businesses close to those communities. Our journey has been from text to video to metaverse. At all points in time, businesses are on our platforms; globally 200 million of them looking for consumers that are best placed to look for products that business offers.
The current context makes it quite interesting. Which is where consumers have moved to digital; Facebook alone, for example, has more than 30 million users. And consumers are showing massive digital influence.
In the last couple of years, the propensity to buy on digital or to communicate on digital is up by 25 percent. Because of the massive scale of the internet, consumers are ready. And business has moved online hugely over the last two years.
The current context, therefore, provides a new opportunity for platforms like us to offer solutions when businesses want to make some tough choices given the macroeconomic environment. So we are very happy to be here talking to businesses about how they can move the agenda of growth and profitability.
Brands and businesses are facing uncertainty and inflationary headwinds. What's the sentiment and how is Facebook placed in this context?
As a marketer there is a hypothesis that maybe I have to let go of growth if I have to be profitable. Advertising spend, for example, gets cut first. Our opportunity is to actually do both. That happens because of our platforms and how they are able to connect consumers to businesses.
Of the three broad factors, the first is reach. The thesis is clear - more reach is good for a brand as long as you are able to segment your communication for the reach. Second is deep consumer engagement; therefore, the opportunity for brands to talk engagingly - to illustrate, reels is massive on our platform. Six million Reels are created every day. And then you look at ads too; you can go, for example, to ‘pin code’ targeting all the way to global targeting then walk the consumer across the funnel. For example, when the consumer journey pauses to ask a question, messaging through WhatsApp is an option. And therefore walking the consumers at a massive scale to the desired outcome is a possibility.
The kind of push that Meta is giving to Reels is immense. Can you tell us the reason for this? And how are brands using Reels?
Consumers always wanted to experiment, and it was only limited by the tools that we offered them. All of us are doing videos now. On Reels, at the scale of six million, the third are built with AR effects. Consumers using AR effects to talk in Reels. Because they want the editing suite in their hand and express themselves. More than two-thirds are folks ‘Born on Instagram’ which is a programme to get more and more creators.
More than two-thirds of our creators come from non-metro cities. The music that they use is Indian. So there is no surprise that Indian playlists actually topped global for Meta on the use of Reels. Therefore massive scale, deep expression and deep localization sets up brand possibilities.
Brands like L’Oréal across their portfolio as a company have used Reels to drive both brand and sales outcomes. So Reels is here, the question is can brands understand that creative landscape and get closer to consumers? Consumer is already there, it is time for the brands to make the move.
What is the kind of interest and enthusiasm around Metaverse?
Every brand and every community is thinking metaverse. And brands not just in advertising. For example, a gaming company like GTA will be on Quest. Now how exciting and interesting an experience is that. BYJU’s is building a learning space for the metaverse and now you can imagine the width and the depth of the learning that is possible. Nestle is doing their own sales team immersions into their global production unit to get them to understand the product. So across the business, there is the possibility of metaverse. Brands are showing up as well. It is extremely clear that if you engage more deeply, the propensity to want the brand is higher.
At this point in time, therefore, multiple Indian brands are also on the journey. But it is first important to embrace the principle.
The principle is interactivity, users and creators and building assets for the media. When we see AR as step one of that journey, we are beginning to move.
For example, Lakme is doing try-ons for lipsticks using influencers on Instagram AR. So they ticked the boxes on influencers, celebrities, etc., endorsing your category, they ticked the boxes on interactivity and actually it is a use case that cannot be done offline. Consumers who are using reels, 35 percent of them are already on AR.
What do the next few months look like from a brand's perspective on Meta platforms?
Brands that will be able to take a sharp view of growth will win the market share. Consumers are online, if they play the full funnel then there is a massive possibility for brands. Both perception market share and sales market share is for the taking as the ecosystem takes a bit of a breather. This is the time to go because consumers are waiting. What is the profitable way to do that is the question and we think we have the tools.