LAS VEGAS — Facebook was once free and easy for brands, with companies simply posting and spreading words and images to the social community. Now, the network is a leading sales driver, working to make it all possible without too many clicks.

Site traffic to that derived from social media grew 84 percent in 2015. With Facebook, specifically, clicks were up threefold, said Jeff Jones, chief marketing officer of retail giant Target, during his presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Joined by Facebook Vice President of Global Marketing Carolyn Everson, the marketing heads shared how they have both adapted to the changing world of mobile technology and retail shopping. “We share a very important DNA, and that’s about innovation,” Everson said.

“Had we not shifted [to mobile], we would not be here,” she later continued.

For Target, mobile tipped the scale for digital sales for the first time this year, with 51 percent coming from smartphones. “Who’s shopping right now?” Jones joked to an audience of about a hundred, most with phones in hands. “The line between living and shopping is blurred. The line between the physical world and the digital world is blurred.”

With consumer habits quickly shifting, Target and other commerce giants are investing in mobile products and ads — and in part, tapping Facebook to do so. Target has been one of a handful of brands that have worked closely with Facebook, testing new ad options and experimenting with e-commerce.

target facebook ads Target ran at least four different styles advertising on Facebook during the holiday season in 2015, as shown in a slide at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 6, 2015. Photo: Kerry Flynn/International Business Times

During the holiday season, Target ran ads across several of Facebook’s products and in different formats. Facebook users saw "carousel” ads, a post of several items that can be scrolled through horizontally, on their news feeds as well as video ads on Instagram. Target was also one of the first to test "canvas," a full-screen and interactive ad.

While the designs of these ads were a clear investment for the company, for these advertisers, it is solely about uploading a pretty picture that could inspire a Facebook user to “like” the post. Facebook said it is not focused on that mission either. “I have no desire in driving likes and comments. I have every interest in driving sales,” Everson said.

That sales focus extends not only to retail giants but also to small businesses. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg has said Facebook is the destination for a business to start and grow and can be a main online presence. As Facebook works to grow its presence in emerging markets, Everson noted that small business owners from Kenya are operating on Facebook. 

But even Facebook cannot predict and provide everything when it comes to sales. Regarding Target’s sales during the weekend of Black Friday, Jones said, “We sold a s--- ton of those big stuff bears. We had no idea, and then everybody bought bears.”