Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn urges brands to ‘turn their heads’ in the metaverse

Brands and their partners need to start thinking about “a future beyond what fits in the palm of your hand,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of Facebook’s global business group, during the company’s session at the IAB UK Digital Upfronts. Today.

Mendelsohn said, “History has taught us, since the birth of modern computers in the 1950s, that a new computing platform appears about every 15 years.

“The last one was the launch of the iPhone in 2007, which means a new scale computing platform will come out in the next few years — it’s just inevitable.”

This summer, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants to turn Facebook into a “metaverse company.” Mendelsohn said developments such as Oculus VR headsets, neural wristbands and the recently unveiled Ray-Ban Stories AR glasses were central to this concept.

“To give you an idea of ​​the magnitude of our commitment, we now have about 10,000 people working on virtual reality,” she said.

The other two areas she focused on in her talk — creators and commerce — were, Mendesohn said, “part of a much bigger goal and that’s to help build the metaverse — a virtual environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces”.

This is “not something Facebook is going to build on its own,” she said. Many other platforms, including Epic Games’ Fortnite, Roblox, and blockchain-based Decentraland, are vying for consumer time and attention in virtual space.

“And it’s also not something we’ll build overnight, but I think it’s something brands should try to get their heads around,” she added. “Because here’s going to be a part for you to play too. And the best way to get your head around the metaverse is to try and experiment with the technology that’s going to be a big part of it.”

Before moving on to the metaverse, Mendelsohn discussed the growing importance of creators to brands and the possibility of using social and virtual platforms for commerce.

She cited an estimate by venture capital firm Signal Fire that 50 million people worldwide consider themselves creators, pointing to data showing that in the year to July, VCs had invested $2 billion in the US in creative-focused start-ups alone in the year to July.

Mendelsohn said, “Over the past decade, creators like these have been able to build communities and deep personal relationships with their followers, as well as interesting relationships with brands.

“During the lockdown, it was incredibly difficult to create traditional ads while we were all isolated. Creators were able to fill this gap very quickly with their own content to help brands get their messages out there.

“The ads didn’t work because of the creators’ reach, but because of the deep connection they have with their audience.”

The other part of the equation was for brands to use this and use it to drive sales, Meldelsohn said. “How many of you have bought something in the last 18 months because a creator showed you something you like?

“One in five of us use social media as a source of shopping inspiration – take Europe out of the equation, and that number is closer to two in five.”

In China, she said, one in three internet users has used live shopping — through live streams such as on Facebook Live.

Mendelsohn gave the example of fitness tech brand Peloton, which marked US Black History Month in February with a capsule collection created with four black designers, including Monica Ahanonu.

“Peloton invited her on Instagram to talk about her work with a Peloton staffer; that video is for sale. So while you’re listening to Monica, you can just click, pick your items and then they’re all yours.”

With Facebook coming to an end in recent weeks’ heavy criticism over a series of revelations in The Wall Street Journal after documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, it can be said that the company faces an existential challenge.

Facebook has rejected Haugen’s suggestion that it puts “profit over safety” and has outlined several steps it is taking to address concerns raised over issues such as Instagram’s impact on teen wellbeing.

Speaking during her speech, Mendelsohn – who was promoted this week – said: “I get a lot of questions about the future of Facebook and in particular what that means for advertisers, and there are quite a few different answers.

“And that’s because in many ways Facebook can be seen as a reflection of humanity. And as humanity changes, our platforms must adapt to meet those needs.”

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