Fergus O’Hare, Director of Facebook Creative Shop for APAC, is also known as the Rockstar of Facebook because of his epic presentations. After working for 17 years as a Writer and Creative Director in Global Advertising Agencies in Paris and New York, he made the decision to move join the world’s most exciting social network Facebook as Head Creative Strategist for the Middle East, Africa, Turkey and Israel in 2014 and in 2015. Fergus was quickly promoted to lead the world’s biggest and fastest growing region – Asia and Pacific. In his new role, Fergus has sought out and brought together Asia’s most awarded and creative talent to help him build ideas that transform the world’s largest and most innovative marketers to use Facebook Marketing. Fergus is not only known for having a bold creative mindset, but also for his extravagant and charismatic presentations where he combines strategic and creative thinking with entertainment and fresh ideas.
Fargus rocked at Huawei presents Digital Marketing Summit 2016 in Bangladesh with his out-of-the-box presentation. He shared his insight about the creative approach of Facebook and the current trends going in Asia Pacific Region in an exclusive interview with Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF).
How do you feel about being a part of the Digital Marketing Summit 2016?
Fergus O’Hare: It has been absolutely amazing! I am really happy to be in Bangladesh. In the summit, I enjoyed the panel discussion which was really great for me as I could hear in-depth from the local marketers. It’s sad to know that people here are still being stuck in social jail, as we call it, of likes and shares. Facebook has moved way beyond that phase years ago because it’s not only about likes and shares it is about delivering real business results. I was actually changing my presentation after listening to the points.
In recent times, there has been a huge boost in mobile usage & browsing penetration. How has this affected your work on Facebook?
We became a mobile-based company years back so it has just been good for us. One of the great things that Mark Zuckerberg did, he said years back when people were doing things on desktop, “Stop showing things on desktop. The world has gone mobile. Everybody has got to be on mobile today or tomorrow”. So we have been building products for mobile for the last few years and have already been ahead of the curve. This is where Google missed as they focused more on desktop, on the contrary we concentrated on mobile. Facebook will continue is to build new products for mobile because remarkable growth rate of mobile users and decrease rate of desktops users and TV watchers is a strong indicator to the fact that it’s the core platform where people are and will be for next few decades.
Sounds interesting! Would you share a few of your experiences at Facebook?
I work for the Creative Shop. We are a group of about 169 marketers around the world. As we are senior marketing people, we would rather run advertisement agencies. A lot of us come from very traditional backgrounds. I worked as an advertiser for 17 years. I used to run the marketing departments of Motorola, IBM, and Louis Vuitton and do a lot of traditional work on television. And then, I went through the transformation of digital age.
What we have done in Creative Shop is hired a lot of people who understand big ideas because on Facebook it is all about big ideas. This is because we can teach them how to build apps and other content for mobile first but we cannot teach them big ideas. As some of them might understand Facebook but not advertisement, we try to work with the marketers and with agencies to teach them how to build content for this mobile first. Things have changed very differently from television as for television we have 30 second commercials. It builds up to the end and you don’t know what is going on till the end of the commercial. But the contents we try to bring forward are different because the way people view in mobile is a lot faster. We have to build beautiful and really relevant creative contents on Facebook.
Facebook is like another world of 1.7 billion people and it’s not one Facebook but 1.7 billion Facebooks. Because everybody’s newsfeed is different so your newsfeed is different from my newsfeed. What I do is that I make content relevant to both you and me, and also on top of that the content advertisement in Facebook has to compete with everything made in the entire world you are not just competing with adds in an outbreak, you are competing with Star Wars trailer, contents of you and your friends and contents of other people. The advertisement should be great as when people are scrolling through they have to go like “HAHA this is funny or this is great or I love this”; they can’t go to like “Uurgh I don’t want to watch it”. So it has to be great and relevant. Suppose you are into cycling; and suddenly you are scrolling Facebook and see a sale for a bike. You will go like “that’s brilliant I want to buy a bike” and click and tick yourself to place an order. You can buy things directly off Facebook and you don’t have to go to another site to do it.so that is what we try to do.
That is pretty much where the algorithm comes to play, isn’t it?
Yes, the algorithm pretty much comes into play. Facebook algorithm is basically built to deliver you contents that you want to see because there are millions of hours of contents uploaded to Facebook every day. So if you were to look for anything on your Facebook without that algorithm, you would never find anything you wanted to see. Facebook gets really clever hereand shows what you would like to see. Facebook ensures great personal experience for the users by customizing your newsfeed based on your personal taste. Eventually it becomes your personal newspaper.
What are your observations about the creative work being done in the Asia Pacific region? Do you think that they are good enough to compete on a global stage?
Definitely. There are great works coming out of all over APAC. Places like Australia are very developed and their work is great. At the same time great works are coming out of Indonesia and Southeast Asia. We have got a lot of great work till date, but there is still a lot of work to do and a there’s a need to teach the best practices to the agencies.
A lot of people have jumped from no internet to mobile firsts, so they are learning from mobile firsts. The problem is that the agencies in common are doing traditional work and putting it on Facebook. They build their advertisement and then go like “Let’s make it work on Facebook”. As a result they are not building the right thing from mobile firsts. On the contrary, we try to do build a campaign in Facebook, Instagram and Messenger first; because if it works there, it will work in other mediums. The creativity of this region is great and we just need getting the great creative minds to know how to build work from mobile firsts.
In this part of Southeast Asian region, digital marketing is considered a totally different entity in comparison to the traditional media like TV, Radios etc. Do you think it is high time digital marketing should be integrated into the traditional, media?
I don’t even call it digital media. I call it media. It is not like that my 12 year old son picks up his Ipad and goes “Oh! I am going digital, dad”. I have already said if any advertisement works on mobile, it has all those features to work on the other mediums. There is always a place for other mediums but mobile is where people are and mobile is where people will be, we have to start building on it irrespective of whatever the region is. If you don’t go to the media of internet and mobile, you, as an organization or brand, will definitely lag behind compared to your competitors.
One final question! What is your message to the youth taking Facebook as an internet platform and trying or will try to make a career out of it?
Well for young marketers! First and foremost, Facebook is where people are. Facebook is about connections as it is connecting people; it is also being connected to brands so if you think about it, it makes brands personal. Facebook makes life more personal and at the same time brings people together from all around the world. As Facebook is about people, connection and personalization, that is a zone where marketers need to tap into. So for young people starting on advertising, they must have knowledge about Facebook, and should learn Facebook and how to do things in and for Facebook. Because Facebook is not only about future, it is about everything.
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