Facebook’s Increased Transparency and its Effect on Advertisers
Following the controversy surrounding foreign interference on Facebook during the 2016 elections, there has been a call-to-action for Facebook to increase transparency and accountability across its social networks. In response to public criticism of data misuse and dark posts, Facebook has announced the implementation of new features, that will allow for an:
Increase in accountability for Electoral and Issue Ads
Increase in authenticity and transparency for Pages
Expansion of View Ads
With a planned global roll out in June, it is important for both advertisers and brands to understand the changes that are taking place and any potential results of the increased transparency of brands and organizations on the platform.
Any account wishing to run political ads – electoral or issue-based – will be required to provide more thorough documentation in order verify their identity, including their entity and location. This additional level of verification will begin with US federal elections before being expanded to additional contests and jurisdictions. The verification process is already being tested, and users can expect to begin seeing the labeling later this spring.
Once approved, any ads related to the election will be labeled with a “Political Ad” marker and also be required to feature “Paid for By” information. For those who do not follow the process and proactively disclose the nature of their advertisements, Facebook is developing machine learning technology that will allow them to better locate non-compliant ads and enforce the required verification and transparency.
In an effort to expand upon the transparency provided by the above requirements, Facebook is building an archive of current and historical federal-election related ads, that once full, will cover a rolling 4-year period, starting from when the archive is launched. Within this searchable archive will be detailed information on each ad including total amount spent, impressions delivered, and demographics of the audience reached.
Check out the video here to learn more and view the political ad archive in action.
In order to further provide security to users among pages, people who manage pages with a large number of followers will need to be verified. By doing so, Facebook is working to ensure that those managing pages are not doing so with a fake account, which is against Facebook’s policies. Those who do not follow the verification process will no longer be able to post.
In addition to ensuring authenticity among pages, Facebook will also be providing increased transparency to users. This will provide individuals with additional context in order to better assess a page’s content. According to Facebook, this will include information such as whether a page has changed its name.
While the aforementioned new guidelines are only applicable to a small subset of pages (electoral and issue pages and ads), the “View Ads” functionality poses the largest implications to all brands and advertisers.
“View Ads” was quietly launched in Canada in November 2017 and is scheduled for a US release in June. This feature allows any user the ability to view additional ads a page is currently running on Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger, whether or not they are in the ad’s intended target audience. While this feature was rolled out in response to the misuse of political ads on Facebook, the View Ads feature will impact all advertisers and Pages.
This feature will include nearly all ads, including link ads, carousels, collections. Offer ads will also be shown, though Facebook will include a disclaimer for users that “Offers, special pricing and other details may not apply to you.” Dynamic ads, due to their unique nature, will only have a subset surfaced for viewing, and they will not be searchable or indexed.
Many brands have worked hard and gone through rounds of testing to master their creative strategies – all of which will now be clearly visible and easily accessible to direct competitors along with smaller, up-and-coming brands, who may be new to the advertising space. Brands and agencies can utilize this new feature to conduct thorough creative audits of competitors to find areas of creative opportunity they may not already be taking advantage of.
Brands will now have increased visibility into their competitor’s marketing calendars, especially as it relates to the promotion calendar, meaning brands that are flexible can now shift to price and/or discount match when it matters the most. While not an exact method with only active ads being shown, brands and agencies can learn the promotional cadence, garnering insights on top product categories or typical discount methodology.
Many brands utilize targeting capabilities and custom audiences in order to deliver specialized messaging to specific audience groups, ranging from prospecting audiences to high lifetime value customers. With the implementation of View Ads, any exclusive offer or message intended for a subset of users will now be comprised. Once individuals are able to see a full range of ads, they will know whether or not they were granted the access to exclusive sale or promotion. This can potentially create dissent among consumers, discovering that they did not qualify for a specific offer without understanding the nuances behind the strategy.
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This increased viewability across the platform is unprecedented, so the full effect of the changes is yet to be seen. Individual users may latch onto the functionality, or it may be used primarily by political watch groups and other brands. However, all those involved in the social advertising space need to be prepared for the change and ready to respond to any questions or concerns that may arise upon its launch.
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