Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is mounting a charm offensive, this time making her case for Facebook’s business potential to Wall Street and Madison Avenue.
In New York for the annual confab Advertising Week, Sandberg kicked off the offensive with an appearance on CNBC, her first since Facebook’s disastrous public debut. Like Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg addressed head-on her company’s plunging stock price, which she conceded had hurt employee morale.
“We’re obviously disappointed and really surprised by what happened” with the initial public stock offering, Sandberg said.
But she stopped short of placing blame for the debacle.
“We’re taking that energy and really focusing on proving to the world that we can continue to grow our business,” she said.
Sandberg said Facebook is “aggressively” rolling out products and is laser-focused on making money.
“I think we’re executing better and better,” she said.
She also struck back at the perception that Facebook is behind the eight ball on mobile. She said mobile is a “huge opportunity” for Facebook and that the company’s new mobile app was “boosting engagement.”
In a nod to her effort to win over big-brand advertisers, she made a pitch for social ads, which she said are “incredibly effective.” She pointed to promoted ads, which appear on mobile devices and on the desktop, saying they are eight times more engaging than ads that appear on the right-hand side of Facebook’s website.
And Sandberg spoke of the promise of an advertising network that would show ads on other websites and take on rival Google. She said that Facebook’s ability to target people based on age, location, interests and other information they share on Facebook is “tremendously valuable.”
Facebook was stung days before its IPO when auto maker General Motors said it would stop advertising on the social network. Facebook has launched a campaign to persuade brand advertisers that its ads do work, offering research and more feedback.
Advertising may be the engine that drives Facebook, but Sandberg made clear that it is exploring other ways of making money, including selling premium services to businesses.
“It’s an area that we’re currently starting to explore,” Sandberg said.
Last week Facebook launched a new Gifts service, its first foray into mobile and online commerce. Sandberg said the potential for the service is “really big.”
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