Don't be misled by its e-commerce and customer service experiments.
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This week the entire media industry is drinking rosé on the French Riviera and calling it business. Startup CEOs have described the annual Cannes Lions festival to me as “a cooler South by Southwest—with none of the riffraff.” Not being there myself, I can only assume the event is abuzz over tronc (lowercase), the Internet satirist formerly known as Tribune Publishing, which yesterday provided the world with a new, incredible piece of modern performance art.
If not tronc, then likely Snapchat, or Pinterest, or even Spotify. Cannes has morphed in recent years from a self-congratulatory advertising schmooze fest (few do this better than the ad world, and I say that with zero judgment) to a who’s who of up-and-coming tech platforms. The aforementioned startups have all made Cannes into their versions of debutante coming-out party.
Even Facebook fb has had its Cannes moment. Remember the company’s big falling-out with General Motors gm ? Weeks before the company’s big IPO, GM’s chief marketing officer declared to the world that Facebook ads didn’t work. But Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg famously patched up the broken relationship at Cannes—reports from the time toasted the power of rosé.
Sandberg and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg don’t appear to be making the trip to Cannes this year. They spent yesterday fielding questions from their shareholders about Trendghazi (the conservative-news-suppression scandal) and how driving a Lamborghini makes people hate you (Sandberg declared Zuckerberg is “warm and fuzzy,” no comment on Lamborghinis).
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Even though Facebook’s two top execs aren’t at Cannes, the company still has plenty of warm fuzzies for advertising. Sandberg and Zuckerberg made one thing very clear to their shareholders: Sure, Facebook is experimenting with e-commerce, and customer service, and other business-to-business forms of monetization. But the $320 billion market cap company’s main method of making money will remain primarily through selling ads. “That’s what we’re set up to do well,” Sandberg said. “Thinking about our business as advertising-based is the right way to think about it.” Investors can raise a glass of the pink stuff to that—since Facebook’s IPO four years ago, the company’s shares have climbed 197%.