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The Quest for Transparency: Facebook and Twitter Announce the End of Dark Posts

3 MINUTE READ | November 13, 2017

The Quest for Transparency: Facebook and Twitter Announce the End of Dark Posts

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Zaayer Merchant

Zaayer Merchant has written this article. More details coming soon.

Last week Facebook and Twitter announced that they will be increasing transparency in their platforms by making all ads visible to the general public, even if they were previously ‘Dark Posts’ a.k.a posts that were not traditionally visible to anyone except the advertiser and the specific audience it was promoted to.

The changes come in response to the controversy generated during the 2016 election as foreign agents allegedly put up social media ads from fake groups and pages in an attempt to influence voters.

Only ads that are currently being promoted by the page. Targeting, budget and spend data will not be available to view. Demographic, impression and spend data will only be visible for political ads around the US Federal Elections.

Ads on all platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, Messenger) will be visible but, for now, only certain ad types are available. Dynamic and offer ads aren’t currently viewable but this may change in the future.

What about Twitter?

All ads, and details about their creative, that are currently live on Twitter will be available to view in the transparency center. You will also be able to see which ads are targeted to you and, based on personalized information, which ads you might be targeted with.

Political advertisers will now have to go through a thorough identity check which will be visible on their profile, as well as details about who they’re targeting and how much they’ve spent. There will also be stricter controls on creative and targeting as well as harsher penalties for violating ad policies.

Although the changes are meant primarily for the way that political advertisements are bought and served, they do have implications for some advertisers:

Brand Strategy & Competition:

It’s a lot easier to see what the competition is doing when all their ads are visible online. From the latest branding play or product release to targeted messaging, it’s all visible to any competitor that may want to have a look; and vice-versa. This has a big impact on advertisers in fiercely competitive markets. Even if audience data isn’t visible, digital ads are often so granular that it’s easy to infer who the advertisement is targeted to. Competing ads can be put up within hours and make it much harder to win those audience auctions.

Unique Audiences/Promotions

For some brands, special discounts and promotions are targeted toward custom audiences. Whether that audience was from a certain subscriber list or residing within a certain city or zip code, discounts advertised only to them via social media will now be visible to anyone with the patience to look through their ads to find the code.

This affects pretty much any advertiser who puts up promotions or discount codes that are only meant for certain audiences. Brands with VIP lists or member clubs who advertise to their CRM lists may have to rethink how they deliver these exclusive discounts.

We know each advertiser is different and that this change has a different impact on everyone. Based on your method of advertising and promotions, and the use of dark posts within them, you may have to make minor tweaks or major changes to your ad strategy.

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