​Facebook's strong earnings: What it'll mean for marketers in 2017

Better ad measurement and heavy investment in video is what marketers can expect from Facebook. Ad loads on Instagram will increase over time.

With Google and Facebook gobbling up marketing budgets, it's worth noting where the social networking giant is going and the burning issues for decision makers looking to leverage the platform.

Facebook's fourth quarter results were strong across the board, with engagement surging and a lot of executive chatter about video. Here are the key takeaways to note.

Video. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said video on the network will be as critical as the shift to mobile. Facebook will invest heavily in video, work on original programming, and adopt a model that'll rhyme with YouTube more than Netflix. Zuckerberg said:

I said before that I see video as a mega trend, on the same order as mobile. That's why we're going to keep putting video first, across our family of apps, and making it easier for people to capture and share video in new ways. To make it easier to find and watch videos, we've added a tab at the bottom of the Facebook app, with top videos and recommendations. We've already rolled the tab out to everyone in the US, and we're planning to bring it to more countries soon.

We're looking for ways to grow the ecosystem of video content on Facebook. We want people to think of Facebook as a place for interesting and relevant video content, from professional creators as well as their friends. Last year, we started to invest in more original video content to help the seed ecosystem, and we're planning to do more in 2017.

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Ad measurement improvements. Facebook in 2016 had a bevy of problems with ad metrics and corrections. Operating chief Sheryl Sandberg said:

We know that measurement is important to building advertiser trust. Last year, we discovered several metric issues, and while no billable metrics were affected, we took action to fix the errors, and reviewed all of our metrics. We also expanded our partnership with third-parties, given the important role they play in verification. We're going to continue to invest in measurement, including third-party partnerships in the upcoming year.

Sandberg came back to measurements a few times and was asked about advertising and effects on sales lift. She said:

There's obviously, a lot of conversation, and a lot of concern out there about what we're measuring. We think the answer to all of this, is to remember that what really matters is going all the way through, from the ad itself to the sale, whether that sale is online or offline. And we are working hard, to work on the data in a privacy-protected way to be able to do that. And we're making progress across verticals, across our large customers. I don't have the percentage of exactly how many customers are working on this type of measurement with us.
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Messenger will become a bigger marketing forum. Sandberg noted Messenger ad experiments and connections between businesses and customers.

When you think about ads in Messenger, we right now are really focused on consumer growth and engagement, because we know that over time that creates a monetization opportunity. We're seeing a lot of organic connections between businesses and consumers. We're now, per month at 1 billion messages sent between people and businesses, and we think that's very promising for our ability for people to use this platform, to make those connections that will ultimately drive the business opportunities.

Instagram ad load will increase slowly. Facebook CFO Dave Wehner said that Instagram advertising is growing quickly, but ad loads trail core Facebook by a wide margin. "There is an opportunity for us to continue to grow ad load on Instagram in a longer time frame than there is on Facebook," he said.

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