Putting a creative mindset into a media-driven platform has created balance on both sides, says Facebook global creative director Andrew Keller.
Former CP&B chief exec and global creative director, Keller has been with Facebook since 2016 and has since developed a compelling story around the value of communities to brands. Keller believes that community is the one commonality in all great advertising and is a topic that helps drive a message of authenticity in brands and their strategies.
As to whether this focus on community has come from being a part of Facebook now, he admits that his time in the business has already driven a change in him in gaining a greater respect for media, alongside creative.
“When I came to Facebook, I felt like we were very format-focused. We talk about best practices. Really, a lot of those best practices are about how to approach the platform and really how to, in many ways, get the most bang for your buck almost from a media perspective. What I realized, and it was a bit of an eye-opening experience for me, was around the expression, 'to a hammer, everything's a nail.' When you come at things from a media perspective, you believe, ‘everything can be solved through a media lens if we can just get whatever this content is in front of the right person at the right time. This is going to be going to work.’ I was coming from a creative lens. The creative lens is like, ‘doesn't matter where we put it. This idea is so incredible. How will people ever be able to ignore it?
“I gained more respect on both sides of things. I began to understand different perspectives. So looking at that, it just seemed like we were spending a lot of time on this sort of media optimization side when we talked about creative assets. But I thought, could we spend more time around the messaging side?”
Matching the media and creative better together is also an objective of Sorrell’s new venture S4Capital, according to Victor Knaap, whose production business Mediamonks is now seeking a performance media sidekick.
“I think the moment that media and creative was separated was one of the really unfortunate moments in advertising history. They're completely linked. I mean, it's like you're going to walk into a party and you're going to tell a joke and it's going to make more sense in some environments than it's going to make an in other environments. We've got to be aware of our environments. We've got to be aware of who we're communicating with. So much great work has happened when media and creativity comes together. It's on all of us to put aside whatever our issues are and put clients first and collaborate with anyone that we can to be able to build a stronger, more relevant, potent idea that reaches as many people as we can. I think it's simple. It's about collaboration. That's the answer. It's simple. It's not necessarily easy, but it is simple,” he says.
For Keller, community helps stitch the two together and forces brands out of just thinking about things from a promotional point of view, something he said he believed in before joining the social network.
“What I always believed long before I came to Facebook was that social media in general had changed the contract, the social contract, if you will, between people and brands, and that there was a higher expectation for what people expected of brands, and that brands need to rethink who they were. They couldn't just be this anonymous one-dimensional force that says, ‘Our product is 20% better,’ there was going to have to be more there,” he says.
A core part of why community has power for brands, he says, is that it forces us to think about who something is for, which then creates purpose for the ads.
“As I look back on ideas that I really liked, what I really did start to notice was it wasn't just that they leveraged cultural tension or that they were relevant, but that they were really being done for someone who had a real sense of who this is for”, he explains, “It's not a mindless sort of generic act, if it's even an act, frankly. That really drives powerful connections for those folks that you are astounding, which is the language that we've started to use, but also for the people that generally are on the outskirts of that, and that, truly, advertising has a real opportunity to be tool that brings people together.”
He continues: "It's something that we need now, frankly, more than ever, and that our platform is a platform that that's our mission. So if all that can come together in this world, then that's really exciting. It'll create better advertising, it'll create better impact on the world, and it'll create a better experience on Facebook and Instagram and all these platforms. I think it's just a complete sort of triple win for everyone."
He says the success then comes in finding a moment to speak to the community about something, whatever the style and approach. The key, he says, is to use the community as a muse to do something creative that will resonate and add meaning.
One way that he is linking the creative way of thinking to media is to encourage people to think about how messages land, rather than just simply buying your way into someone’s attention.
“Products are built for people, and the people shape products. I think that any time we're thinking about media, I would look at that media and say, ‘Is that media being built for people? Is it doing the things that people want?’ It shouldn't be that complicated to understand, you don't get to just show up in that media just because you pay for that media. You can show up and do whatever you want. That's the challenge of paid advertising, is this sort of notion that of, ‘Well, I paid for it. I can do whatever I want.’ But in the same way that a media is only successful because it honors and respects what the user wants, advertising's no different. Why would you come into that space and not honor and respect the world and not expect to have your results challenged?” he asks.
In relation to how this is filtering into the media and formats side at Facebook, he believes ads in Stories offers a more raw and authentic experience for brands to insert themselves into. Facebook announced it was adding ads into Stories in September, saying that it would be complimentary to Instagram as the style was popular enough for multiple platforms.
“If you look at Stories and you think about the explosion of it, it's incredibly visual, but it's also incredibly authentic and raw. That was driven by the ephemerality,” he says. The ads allow emojis to be added, akin to how people would use the platform, but the real success for Keller is around being able to “understand that what people are gravitating towards, is a more raw, authentic approach. That should be the lesson for brands. That's why they're there, so let's connect with them in the way that they prefer. That's the definition of relevance.”
With more clients seeking better connection between its creative and media, platforms like Facebook offer a bit of a cheat sheet, particularly with talent like Andrew Keller at the helm. However, the advertising community is bigger than one platform and for advertising to add greater relevance to consumer’s lives, the media and creative link needs to be shortened by more players outside one or two platforms.