A New Era of Social Transparency

By Danielle Boniche | July 16, 2018 | Blog
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On June 28 Facebook and Twitter finally announced their Ad transparency features were available to the public. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach and ad trolling during the 2016 election, both social empires made promises to be more open with their users about advertisers. Here’s our breakdown on what you need to know to keep your campaigns running smoothly.

Everything is now visible

Long gone are the days of flying under the radar with social media advertising. To be more transparent, Facebook has made all ads visible to its users under the new ‘Info and Ads’ tab on Pages. In a similar fashion, Twitter released their ‘Ads Transparency Center’, a tool which allows users to search handles and view ads they’re running. As noted by a recent Digiday article, the move by both channels is bringing a so-called end to dark posts.

As marketers, it’s great because we can now take a peek at what competitors are up to. The downside? It means competitors can also view our content. Performance details are not available via Facebook, but knowing the ad types and language competitors are using can help you in developing your next paid social campaign. Just remember to take what you see with a grain of salt.

With great power comes great responsibility

The United States is the first country to have this feature rolled out—Brazil is next up in light of the country’s upcoming election cycle. And while the feature was piloted in Canada, we can still expect to see some hiccups along the way as everyone (Facebook and Twitter included) makes sense out of these changes.

Political ads, for example, are a huge point of contention. Measures are in place to identify groups paying for ads and to make them easily identifiable. Algorithms are still in their infancy and advertisers need to take this into account when launching campaigns. Bush’s Baked Beans recently experienced these growing pains when Walmart ads promoting the product were incorrectly marked as political—the algorithm thought they were about former President Bush.

Let’s get political

Politics are what led Facebook and Twitter to work toward increasing transparency with their users. But it’s not just about campaigning and promoting candidates anymore. As part of the rollout, Facebook is segmenting out advertisers who want to share content around highly debated issues and topics.

So what does this mean? Advertisers, such as news outlets, will now need authorization from Facebook in order to run ads about hot topics, such as immigration or healthcare, until Facebook confirms their identity and location. As we get closer to midterm elections, it will be critical for all outlets (from local news stations and papers to national channels) to be authorized to advertise content. All ads will be marked with “Political Ad.”

Now what?

In a live Q&A, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared, “Our ultimate goal is very simple: we want to reduce bad ads, we want to make sure that people understand what they’re seeing, who paid for it, and the fullness of what other people might see.” After all that has happened the past few years, it makes sense that Facebook and Twitter would want to cover their bases.

Prior to these updates, users on Facebook had a fair bit of control over the ads they were served, but it was tucked away and relatively unknown to the general public. It will be interesting to see how (and if) the general population of social media users will actually take the time to look through Pages to see what ads businesses are serving.

If you’re a business trying to navigate this new advertising landscape, drop us a line to see how Social Distillery can help you out.


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Danielle Boniche
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Facebook, Twitter, Ads, Walmart, social_media, industry-news, cambridge-analytica, political-ad, sheryl-sandberg, social-transparency

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