As an advertising agency, we stay abreast of the changes and evolutions that occur in the marketing landscape, because it affects our clients directly. One major player has caught the world’s attention lately, and that’s Facebook.
Chances are that you heard about the Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke in March. The political consulting company, which recently rebranded amid the outbreak of news, harvested and misused data of nearly 86 million users. This has created a whirl of questions for Facebook around its privacy policies, ethics and online advertising.
In an attempt to coax public opinion and put an end to the #deletefacebook movement, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered inquires from Capitol Hill and promised more transparency and the ability for users to have more control over their own data. Since the April congressional hearing, Facebook has been updating its platform to address these concerns and demonstrate that the social network is a place for “all ideas.”
As a digital marketing agency, we feel it’s critical to be informed, proactive and responsible when using social platforms to post and advertise on the behalf of our clients. We regularly research and analyze changes to Facebook and other social networks. The following “state of Facebook” recaps recent events and platform changes.
Here’s what Facebook is saying and doing:
- Currently, Facebook users only have the option for a free account. That means they’ll continue to be served ads; however, they will have more control over their personal data and restrict Facebook from using it for more nuanced ad targeting.
- Even when a user is not on Facebook, the social network collects data off Facebook via social plugins, Facebook logins on third-party apps or websites, Facebook Analytics and Facebook ad and measurement tools. The user can edit their News Feed or Ad preferences to stop receiving content from specific advertisers.
- WhatsApp, a messaging service that Facebook purchased in 2014, will now begin serving ads to its users. This prompted Jan Koum, chief executive of WhatsApp, to quit and join the #deletefacebook movement.
- There’s been debate about why some posts are removed while others aren’t. The company released a detailed guideline of Facebook Community Standards to establish more transparency in the process.
- To circumvent hate speech, spam and other bad content, Facebook is investing in artificial intelligence to spot and remove it before a user reports it.
What does all this mean for advertisers?
- Despite the public relations hit, Facebook reported record numbers at the end of Q1 2018. According to The Atlantic, the company earned $5 billion in net income, which is a nearly $4 billion more than Q1 of 2017. Monthly and daily users were up, and Facebook has almost recouped what it lost amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Therefore, Facebook still has a stronghold in the digital ecosphere.
- Facebook is cracking down on advertisers who don’t have permission to target users using third-party data. When creating new Custom Audiences, marketers will soon have to vet their data via a tool requiring user consent confirmation.
- Facebook will launch a “Clear your history” option in the coming months, so users can have more control over how their data is stored. This means advertisers could potentially face limited targeting with users removing their activity from the site.
Based on the state of Facebook today – given its vast user audience and its efforts to right the wrongs in terms of privacy and lack of transparency – we still consider the network to be a viable platform for delivering organic and paid content to targeted audiences. We will continue to closely monitor changes as they unfold, including our ability to effectively reach appropriate audience groups as tighter targeting parameters are put in place.
Our clients who have specific questions about their Facebook campaigns can contact us directly to discuss.