1) What was it like to be one of the very few people invited over to the F8 Roundtable Meeting?
Mariano: It felt very nice and it really gave me the feeling that I was part of a real partnership with Facebook. I think we go there around 10am and it went on till approximately 6pm, so it really was a full day schedule! They provided us with breakfast, lunch, coffee and afternoon snacks too. There were only 40 people, so it was quite intimate compared to the events earlier at the F8. To be given the chance to talk with actual Facebook engineers and developers was an amazing experience, especially when it came to the marketing side of things. We were sat across of them and could finally actually talk to them, rather than relying on a ticket system and online customer service. It was a very unique opportunity.
Roel: It was a great experience! And a very necessary move by Facebook, in order for them to really show their partners that they are serious about their partnership and relationship with partners, and that they want to continue build on this. The Roundtable meeting really was a way to show that they are working on bridging the gap between products and partnerships. The Director of Partnerships even had some time to talk to us about a few issues, although he had to leave quickly after finishing his speech. Overall, it was a super valuable experience.
2) Were they able to answer all of your questions?
Mariano: They were able to answer most of the questions that we put forward to them. Other partners were also experiencing several issues, just as we are. In fact, they seemed to have a lot more problems than we did, which was quite comforting! We were also asked by Facebook what they could do to improve their products and services and where they are failing to satisfy us.
If a question was asked that they could not immediately provide an answer for, they would carefully write it down and promise us that they’ll get back to us as soon as possible with an answer. It really gave us the impression that they genuinely cared and were there to help us.
Roel: Well, we had quite a few questions for the Facebook developers and engineers, that we were really eager to ask in person.
Normally, the way it works, is if we have a question, we have to go through direct customer support and wait for a response on the ticket. So when the opportunity came to ask the people responsible for changes question face to face, it was a real release! Finally we were given this chance. This is why the Roundtable was so crucially important, where we were helped by some extremely knowledgeable and helpful people.
What really made it interesting for me, was to see other huge companies really struggling with the same issues we had. In fact, some of the problems they were facing were so much bigger than ours! That was kind of reassuring… This meeting indicated to me that Facebook is trying its best to bridge the gap between products and partnerships. It is of course, fairly new for them to be working with international partners from all across the world. It is, however, important that both sides of this relationship pull their weight. The only way we can move forward is by full commitment from both sides.
3) What would you say was the outcome/result of this important meeting?
Mariano: The outcome was very positive, despite them not being able to answer every single question we threw at them. At least we were finally in contact with them in the best way possible: face to face. This gave us a huge advantage that others will not have. The Roundtable meeting was easily the most crucial part of the entire F8 experience. Even though attending the F8 conference was a fantastic experience, in terms of our company, the Roundtable meeting was far more useful and important to us, due to the fact that we were given the chance to have some on 1 on 1 time with some of Facebook’s developers and engineers. It was also quite reassuring to see other competitors and big companies deal with the same struggles that we’re facing on a daily basis! Facebook really showed all of us that they truly cared, and this meant a lot to us.
Roel: It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones! It was quite a relief that other FMPs have bigger problems than us, and it was just nice to be heard. It helped create an understanding. We are both in this together and it’s like a tandem, we both have to do our part. In the morning especially, we had some highly valuable talks. The afternoon topics were more about the new forms of advertising, rather than the developer and API side of things. After the meeting was concluded, we even had some time to enjoy a couple of drinks with the Facebook engineers and developers who are actually working on the API.
I even spent some time talking to a girl that works on Facebook’s Marketing API, and ended up convincing her to walk around with a The Next Ad sweater! She walked around for the rest of the day holding it whilst talking to other FMPs, which was cool! I was afraid the sweater I gave her would be too warm for a warm place like California, which is when she told me she’ll actually need it where she’s from in cold Seattle!
4) How many people was it attended by?
Mariano & Roel: About 40 people in total.
5) If you could sum up your experience at the F8 Roundtable in only a couple of words, what would it be?
Mariano: Intense. Lots of information. Constant feedback. Relaxed atmosphere.
Roel: Really productive. We should aim to do this more often, I really encourage more future meetings. Hopefully, we can also have one of these Roundtable meetings here in Europe in the future, as it would make it easier for us. A meeting every 6 months would be ideal, this way, we can keep bombarding them with questions! And they can also refer to us for some advice on advertising and feedback on our experiences with Facebook. We could even try and invite them over to our office! *laughs*
6) Is there a memorable moment that you remember from your day at the F8 Roundtable meeting that you would like to share with us?
Mariano: The fact that you could sense they really craved the feedback from us. They gave us the time to express all of our thoughts and opinions, and showed us how important this really is to them. When someone would tell them they have a problem with something, they’d carefully dissect the question and ask several questions to try and reply with the best possible answers. Their help was very careful, accurate and focused. Everyone really appreciated that.
Roel: In the morning, we had talks with the people who are building, and in charge of, the SDK. And those people got completely grilled by some of the FMPs! Everyone had loads of questions for them, and they actually seemed rather overwhelmed. So many questions were fired at them from left and right! The next group of Facebook employees who were up next, were looking on quite anxiously from the side as the FMP developers fired question after question at them. Some of them genuinely seemed freightened, having seen what the SDK people were faced with! But at end of the day, it was all in good spirits.
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