OMR Podcast Special: Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, the inventor of Newsfeed and author of Ads at Facebook drops by the OMR Podcast during OMR Festival 2017
He was once Mark Zuckerberg’s teaching assistant at Harvard and later followed him to Facebook as the 9th employee ever after a two-year interlude at Microsoft. In his time at FB, Boz has left an indelible mark on the company developing Newsfeed and pushing mobile ads. Today, he is VP of Ads and Business Platform Silicon Valley behemoth. After delivering the opening keynote at OMR Festival 2017, Boz sat down with German marketing trailblazer and VC magician Florian Heinemann (Project A Ventures, Thrillist, Trivago and many more) to talk about the past, present and future at Facebook.
Boz still vividly recalls two moments that demonstrated to him just how immense Facebook could one day become. The first was after launching newsfeed, when it only took a day for the haters to come calling and create an aptly named group “I hate Newsfeed,” which amassed a million followers literally overnight. After months and months of dedicating so much time and energy to the product, it was understandably a massive punch in the face initially. But soon after he came to see it for what it was: proof of the platform’s potential. His suspicions were confirmed a few months later when a million users joined the group “Save Darfur” during the height of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur in early 2007. “That was eye opening,” Boz recalls some ten years later. “Until that moment I still had a mental model of Facebook that was like: This is for college kids, for fun and photos.”
Since then, Facebook has changed drastically—and many of the changes that we associate with Facebook today are the Boz’ brainchild, e.g. targeted ads in Newsfeed and Messaging. He has been Facebook’s VP Ads and Business Plattform for four years—despite the fact that he had zero marketing experience beforehand. And Boz stresses the importance of naivety to new Facebook employees, urging them to view things differently and to ask “stupid” questions because “there are only two outcomes: either they have a great answer and you learn something, or they don’t have a great answer and now you’ve taught something.”
In the OMR Podcast with long-time friend of the family and marketing expert Florian Heinemann, “Boz” indulges in a several anecdotes from the early days at Facebook, while also looking ahead to discuss new ad formats and the outlook for developing apps today.
Topic-by-topic breakdown in OMR Podcast with Andrew “Boz” Bosworth and Florian Heinemann:
- How Boz met Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard (1:30)
- Did Boz ever entertain the notion of pursuing a career in academia? (2:40)
- What was the first product Boz had a hand in developing as an engineer at Facebook (3:50)
- How Boz became VP of Ads and Business Platform at Facebook—despite no prior marketing experience (4:35)
- Why is naivety and a lack of experience a good thing when it comes to innovation? (6:20)
- When did Boz realize what Facebook was capable of? (9:20)
- What does Boz recommend to brands who want to launch marketing campaigns on Facebook? (12:45)
- Where does Boz see the true power in Facebook as a marketing platform: in brand building or performance marketing? (15:30)
- How does Facebook respond to criticism that there are too many ads in Newsfeed? (19:00)
- What is the status of video ads on Facebook? (21:30)
- What plans are in the works for additional ad formats on Instagram? (23:35)
- What role does artificial intelligence currently play in Facebook’s various ad formats? (26:15)
- Are there plans to open the audience network for all publishers? (28:10)
- How does Boz assess the current app economy? Do young companies still need to develop an app or is it enough to concentrate on the mobile web? (30:20)
- Is it still possible to be successful with an adtech start up in the age of Facebook and Google?(32:00)
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