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Why Clorox Still Believes in Facebook: An Interview with CMO Stacey Grier

Grier talks targeting, consumer expectations and working with Facebook to make the platform a positive place for advertisers

Despite a decrease in user growth, the looming threat of government regulation and a seemingly endless stream of controversy, Facebook is still an ad-revenue powerhouse. We estimate that the tech giant earned $23.66 billion in US ad revenues in 2018 and is expected to see a 20.6% increase this year.

Still, marketers have expressed uncertainty about Facebook's future, citing concerns over consumer privacy, data security and drops in engagement. Some have even shifted their ad spend to other platforms, and a select few have severed ties with Facebook completely.

The Clorox Company, however, has remained an outspoken partner with Facebook. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica revelations, Clorox’s then-CMO Eric Reynolds expressed public support for Facebook, stating that the consumer goods company was confident that Facebook was taking steps to address its mishandling of consumer data.

Stacey Grier, who became Clorox's CMO in December 2018, shares similar attitudes to her predecessor. For our report on the future of Facebook advertising, eMarketer principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson spoke with Grier to find out why marketers still rely on Facebook for effective targeting and how Clorox is working alongside the social giant to make the platform a positive place for advertisers—and consumers—in the future.

Many marketers say they love Facebook's effective ad targeting. How important is this in digital marketing today?

When people talk about Facebook, they talk about targeting because it’s the unique part of Facebook. There are many places to get reach, but honestly, the combination of those two things is very powerful on Facebook. You are more likely to be served something relevant than in many other places. When you watch TV, the relevance just is not there for you. But when you're on Facebook, because we are custom targeting, you are more likely to want that information and respond to it.

How does this impact the consumer experience?

Consumers expect a more personalized experience. [If you are watching an Instagram Story], you expect someone to know what you're watching and be able to customize that [ad] content to what you're watching. I think that's obviously what we're all pushing for in the future: How do we meet the rising expectations of consumers? And we all feel that as consumers as well. I don't want to have an experience that feels disconnected. I might allow one experience when I'm looking at a mass medium, but I expect something different when I'm looking at an intimate medium like Facebook.

Facebook has been engulfed in controversy. But from an advertiser's perspective, as long as the ads work, do those challenges matter?

Any company that considers itself human-centered, and certainly we do, cares about consumers and what they care about. Consumers are making choices and choose to be on Facebook. It will be interesting to see if that changes in the future. But it's certainly where they choose to be now and seems to be an experience they want to have.

After the Cambridge Analytica story broke, some brands publicly spoke out against Facebook, but Clorox took a more positive stance. Has the company’s position changed since then?

I still believe that Facebook is an important partner to us. We feel like our role is to encourage it to be a place of trust for consumers, so it's a positive experience for them. Facebook has stated its commitment to consumer privacy, and we feel like we do much more good when we partner with it than by being silent.

Some marketers have complained about a drop in engagement since Cambridge Analytica, has Clorox been affected by this?

To date, we have not seen any diminished targeting results for ourselves. If that's happening we haven't seen it yet. Certainly not in our category.

What would you want to see improve as a Facebook advertiser and partner?

We want consumers to trust the Facebook environment because it's important to us that the consumers are there and experiencing our brand. If they feel comfortable and trusted, I think that's one of the powers of the platform: It has a sense of intimacy. We also want to continue to make strides on targeting and scale. All advertisers are on their own journey to figure out how to improve communicating and reaching their audience.

What is your long-term outlook for Facebook as an advertising partner?

We believe that Facebook cares about its advertisers. It's shown that over the years, like any good business. And so we think the more clear we are about what we want, the better it will be at delivering it. Facebook is intentionally trying to make advertisers feel heard and respond to our concerns.

To learn more about how marketers and consumers feel about Facebook and what they predict will happen to the business in the next two years, read our report.