How Facebook is Delivering Personalization on a Whole New Scale

At a time when Facebook is becoming both more global and more mobile-centric, it’s also becoming adept at laying its own customer data over advertiser data and third-party data — to create truly customized experiences for its users. Blake Chandlee, vice president of global partnerships at Facebook, explains.

Here are a few things to know about Facebook’s 1.2 billion (and ever-growing) users: 60% of them access the site every day. Increasingly, they are coming to the site only by smartphones or tablets. And many are joining from countries far from the company’s U.S. base, such as India, Brazil and Singapore.

In its 10-year life, Facebook has become the premier digital platform for individuals to connect with each other and for brands to reach current and prospective customers — in intriguingly savvy and data-driven ways.

Blake Chandlee, vice president of global partnerships at Facebook, has seen the growth and shifts at the company up close. He’s been with Facebook for nearly seven years. He started as the first international employee, in London, and built all of Facebook’s international businesses for his first five years. Today, Chandlee works with a variety of partners: global operating companies on the advertising agency side, and Facebook’s developer network, which is hundreds of developers building on top of the Facebook platform. He also oversees Facebook’s own data and how it works with the data of partners such as Axiom, Epsilon, Benelogic and Experian.

In a conversation with Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, an associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and guest editor for MIT Sloan Management Review’s Social Business Big Idea Initiative, Chandlee details Facebook’s growing ad business in the mobile environment, the hunger of media companies for Facebook’s "chatter data," and the power that comes from being able to overlay third-party data onto of first-party data from brands and Facebook’s own customer information.

Can you give us a "state of the union" of Facebook in terms of business? What’s changed over the last two to three years, and where do you see it going in the next two to three years?

Facebook over the last few years has fundamentally shifted from being primarily a desktop experience to a mobile platform. Well over half of our users are utilizing or accessing Facebook via mobile devices, and that trend is accelerating.

It’s also becoming a much more international and global company. We just passed 100 million users in India, for example. We’ve seen tremendous growth in those emerging markets around the world, both in terms of just sheer users and engagement.