A head of operations for a West Coast-based agency recently scheduled an internal training with a Facebook representative so her team of eight could learn best practices on the platform. But the Facebook rep canceled the meeting last minute due to a scheduling conflict. The agency exec emailed the rep every week to reschedule the training. Four weeks later, she finally got a response.
“I just thought that Facebook didn’t care about us because we didn’t spend enough with the platform,” said the agency executive over breakfast at the Digiday Agency Summit in Charleston, South Carolina, on Oct. 24. “Our clients combined spend at least $3 million on Facebook.”
The exec’s experience with Facebook is not unique. In a town hall-style meeting (where discussions are not for attribution) of around 60 agency executives at the agency summit, many identified Facebook as one of their biggest challenges. The common reasons given: Facebook reps are unresponsive and don’t have enough knowledge to help agencies with campaign-specific questions; Facebook aggressively circumvents agencies to work directly with brands; and Facebook keeps a tight hold on its data.
“Facebook constantly changes, while the rep we have over there doesn’t keep us updated on those changes,” said one agency attendee in the town hall meeting.
A bigger irritant is Facebook’s habit of going directly to brands, according to attendees. A media agency executive said Facebook does this because at the end of the day, the brands have the final say. Google does this, too, but Facebook seems to be more aggressive, according to agency attendees. In some cases, Facebook — and Google — representatives pitched their ad products to clients directly after her team already declined them on behalf of the clients, the media agency exec said.
“Facebook and Google believe that if they can present something new or win clients’ favor through fancy dinners, they will push clients to make business decisions,” said this person.
Underlying these gripes, of course, are fears that Facebook will put agencies out of a job. “When you have such a huge hole, it invites a client-direct relationship, meaning that agencies are not validated,” another exec said.