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Nicola Mendelsohn admits 2017 'hard' for Facebook and rebukes Sorrell 'homework' jibe


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

February 27, 2018 | 4 min read

Facebook dealt with numerous existential threats in 2017 such as brand safety, measurement concerns and illicit and fake content. Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of EMEA at Facebook, has acknowledged that it “was a hard year” but expressed enthusiasm in light of changes invoked by the social network.

Nestle’s Pete Blackshaw and Facebook's Nicola Mendehlson

Nestle’s Pete Blackshaw and Facebook's Nicola Mendehlson

Speaking at an IAB panel at MWC on Tuesday (27 February), Mendelsohn addressed “the elephant in the room,” stating that that the social network had to deal with “a number of different issues, whether it was fake news, election interference, and hate speech”.

Each issue, she said, was taken "very seriously" by the company, resulting in the implementation of numerous countermeasures.

On the ad viewability front, last year Facebook was shaken when it emerged the company had released video engagement figures overstating the performance of content on the site. Brands and media outlets were dependant on the accuracy of its figures due to its reluctance to share its first party data. However, just last week the company vowed to clean up its act on this front.

Addressing this concern, Mendelsohn responded to WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell's complaint that Facebook and Google were "doing their own homework" when it came to metrics and ad performance.

​“We are not doing our own homework," said Mendelsohn. "We have now 25 measurement partners around the world to show and prove the effectiveness and performance of advertising on Facebook".

On the brand safety front, she recited the company's increase of content security checkers from 10,000 to 20,000 at the end of 2017. She said: "I am proud in terms of what we have seen already".

Mendelsohn concluded that now, 99% of terrorist content from al-Qaeda and Isis is blocked "before it gets on the site".

Elsewhere, she revealed that 100m hours of video are watched on Facebook each day, and that 45% of these videos are shared by users. She concluded that Facebook Stories, which had a stumbling launch, now boasts 300m viewers each day and that the company was looking at ways to integrate brands into the feature.

It has not been pure smooth sailing for Facebook at MWC: just one day earlier, CNN president Jeff Zucker called for the US government to regulate the duopoly in order to ensure the survival of journalism.

This month’s issue of The Drum magazine focuses on the mobile sector with insights on the democratisation of photography and interview with US recording artist Ryan Leslie who shared his personal mobile number with the world to help his fan engagement and a look at the longevity of the low-cost smartphone market in China and India. Buy your copy of this issue and other copies through The Drum website.

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