Last month Facebook announced that they were working on strengthening the enforcement of their advertising policies in response to allegations that ads ran out of Russia last year that influenced the US political election. The VP of Public Policy at Facebook, Joel Kaplan, followed up by stating that the ads in question violated advertising policies and were activated by inauthentic accounts. To combat this abuse of the social platform, Facebook plans on making advertising more transparent for all advertisers, not just political entities.
In order to be more transparent, Facebook is adding a “View Ads” feature to all Pages. This will be a public section of a Page where people can see every active ad associated with that specific page running on Facebook, Instagram and Audience Network. This feature will not provide viewers with results such as impressions, clicks, etc. In addition, it won’t show the specific platform that the ads are running on or any details about the audience that is targeted. However, for Political ads, this information will be public.
Starting November 14, Canada will be the first market worldwide to rollout this feature as it aligns with Facebook’s election integrity work that is already underway. It will be then launched broadly to all other countries, starting with the US next summer.
Here is how it will appear on the platform:
How it will impact advertisers?
For many advertisers, dark posting is essential. It allows them to prevent over-saturation of the content that is publicly posted to their Facebook pages. Dark posting is also used for audience segmentation whether it’s for remarketing initiatives or specific geographical areas. Dark or unpublished posting will still be available for advertisers but the “View Ads” feature will allow everyone on Facebook to view all active ads, even if they are not in the specific audience or location that the ads are targeted to. Only paid activity will be accounted for in Ads Manager.
Tests may become skewed for Control areas
A/B testing is popular for all advertisers in order to see what creatives, locations or audience types are the most effective. With the rollout of this new feature, the tests that may be affected are those that are using control areas where all media is dark. As previously mentioned, anyone can view all active ads, even if they are targeting areas that the person is not currently living in. We predict that a small percentage of Facebook users will adopt this new feature but this is still a risk for advertisers, even though it is relatively low. However, in Business Manager, the ad reports that are displayed will only show the paid results. Advertisers will also only pay for the paid interactions with their ads meaning that billing will also not be affected.
Similar to the issue of dark posts becoming light, this rollout will also affect any specific messaging that is created for audiences. For instance, if a brand is targeting their customer email audience with a specific offer, i.e. “50% off for our loyal customers”, this will be visible to everyone on Facebook. This will affect the measurement of audience segmentation. Though this is true, there was never a way that brands could not stop people from sharing dark posts before. It just means that now the ads can be searched, if different messages are targeting specific audience sets, advertisers will have to be careful about the content used in them.
This should be the main concern for advertisers. Yes, consumers can see all of the active ads but they should be more focused on the fact that their competitors now have a bird's-eye view of all of the media they are running on the Facebook platforms. Although they will not be able to see specific metrics, results or targeting – they will see each different ad type, creative, ad copy, call to action, etc.
For now, advertising strategies in terms of targeting, audience types, location segmentation, etc, are not going to be affected. One factor that is going to be affected the most is the creative strategy and implementation. Creative teams will have to completely up their game in order to stay relevant and ahead of their competition. As previously mentioned, this new feature allows competitors to Facebook-stalk one another, which essentially means that they can look at the creatives being promoted and take notes. In order to get ahead, creative teams will have to stay relevant and continue to create new, exciting and engaging content.
This update is a game-changer for all advertisers. As all active ads will now become visible to the public, it means that advertisers will have to rethink their Facebook strategies. Instead of creating a large quantity of low-quality ads for the sake of consistently having to have messages in market, they will have to adopt a “Quality over Quantity” mindset. Personalisation and relevancy are key. Performance agencies will need to work closely with creative teams in order to strengthen their clients’ social approach.
At iProspect, we believe that innovation is the key to staying ahead of competition. We are forever challenging our clients with new and exciting ad units and audience targeting strategies. Now, more than ever we will need to collaborate with creative teams and push the boundaries for our clients to keep them relevant.
You can read the official statement from Facebook here for more details.