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This is the third article within the “Facebook in 2018” series inclusive of top issues, fundamental changes and expectations for the year. Click here to see a list of the other posts within this series.
A long list of highly publicized issues, such as discrimination, data sharing, election interference and privacy concerns, has impacted American and world views of the ubiquitous Facebook platform. To address consumer and business apprehensions, Facebook has announced and made a number of fundamental changes, including tighter privacy settings, arduous restrictions on third-party apps, revised data partnerships, changed targeting capabilities and more advertiser transparency requirements. But many are wondering whether or not Facebook can self-regulate while satisfying its disparate constituents.
We are confident there will be more alterations to Facebook’s platform this year. The speed with which Facebook acts will impact how consumers, businesses and the government perceive the social media giant. In this post, we address three expectations related to Facebook, including advertiser use, marketing performance and ongoing perception.
Expectation #1: Some Advertisers Will Cease Facebook Use (Temporarily)
Many prominent brands have mentioned the possibility of discontinuing their Facebook campaigns. A smaller number have taken this dramatic action.
Last month, Mozilla pulled all Facebook ads stating that recent events “caused us to take a closer look at Facebook’s current default privacy settings given that we support the platform with our advertising dollars.” The Mozilla spokesperson continued, “While we believe there is still more to learn, we found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data ― particularly with respect to settings for third-party apps. When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third-party apps, we’ll consider returning.”
The list of advertisers pulling out is not likely to be voluminous. As Nate Elliott, a contributor to Marketing Land, put it, “Nothing makes advertisers stop buying successful ads. As long as Facebook delivers results, advertisers aren’t going anywhere. Likewise, it seems most marketers and advertising analysts believe a mass exodus from Facebook would require either a significant drop in active users or momentous regulation that is detrimental to the platform’s advertising performance.
After all, controversy struck YouTube last year, forcing Google to admit they accepted funds to place advertising alongside hate group and extremist videos. Dismayed, some brands pulled their media budgets from YouTube. But most returned to the popular video platform within weeks. In fact, Google reported better-than-expected earnings the quarter of the controversy, due in part to YouTube’s ongoing strength.
Expectation #2: Some Advertisers Will Scramble to Overcome Facebook Targeting Changes
Facebook is in the process of halting their relationships with third-party data providers, like Acxiom, Experian, Oracle and Quantium. This change will have a meaningful impact on how advertisers can target their audiences, as approximately half of the 1,200 Facebook targeting attributes come from third-party data.
With certification to confirm appropriate acquisition and consent practices, Facebook will still allow advertisers to upload their own data, which can include intelligence from data brokers layered over first-party data. But marketers who relied on the third-party data within Facebook will now need to find other data suppliers, which is not an easy task. As detailed by Jonathan Katz, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Media at Digital Media Solutions, LLC (DMS), intelligent use of third-party data requires the identification, sourcing and purchase of essential targeting parameters. “That’s not always easy,” expressed Katz. “And then,” he continued, “advertisers will need to calculate the CPL increase and potential reduction in ROI due to the new cost of this third-party data from outside the Facebook ecosystem. Regular optimizations will be essential for long-term success.”
Brands with the least information about their consumers will be forced to overcome the most substantial hurdles. Meanwhile, advertisers skilled in smart data creation, like Digital Media Solutions, don’t see the recent Facebook change as a blow to their performance. “There will be no impact to our business,” confirmed Jonathan Katz. “We create our own data and continually measure consumer intent signals, so it’s much smarter and more relevant than third-party data. First-party quality always wins.”
Many targeting parameters will still be available within Custom Audiences, based on data collected from user actions throughout Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and around the web. And direct-response targeting options within Facebook (like pixel-based retargeting and lookalike audiences) should not be affected by Facebook’s termination of third-party data partner relationships.
It’s also possible that some advertisers will see performance enhancements as the result of reaching larger, less-targeted audiences. Of course, a magnitude of brands advertising to bulkier audiences could increase demand for those impressions, swelling media costs and negatively impacting the ROI for Facebook campaigns.
“When you rely too much on one channel or platform (like Facebook or Google), you don’t control your own destiny,” Katz reminds us. “The most successful advertisers own their audiences and their touchpoints. As a result, they are less impacted by the winds and changes of media partners.”
Expectation #3: Facebook’s Competing Priorities Will Remain an Issue
Facebook mission “to make the world more open and connected” does not definitively prioritize its stockholders, users or advertisers. They’ve been attempting to support the needs of all their audiences, but the public issues arising from this strategic challenge may become insurmountable.
Social media companies, including Facebook, seem to believe their lack of total control over content creation releases them from the traditionally established media company responsibilities. But this conviction is in question by the government, the public and the founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. “I actually am not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” admitted Zuckerberg in a CNN interview last month. “I think, in general, technology is an increasingly important trend in the world, and I actually think the question is more, ‘what is the right regulation?’ rather than ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?’”
Additional Expectations for Facebook in 2018
We are experiencing an evolutionary year for Facebook, and likely for other social media platforms as well. Additional Facebook platform alterations are anticipated, including more rigorous policies and terms for business-to-business apps and an expanded bug bounty program. We also expect Facebook to encourage users to better manage their data sharing and privacy settings, with easy-to-use tools built and promoted to support this initiative.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, was called to Capitol Hill last week for two grueling days of testimony. We’ll tackle the outcomes of those sessions in a post later this week.
Are you concerned with how Facebook changes may impact your campaigns? Contact Team DMS to schedule a call. Our social advertising experts can help you navigate the landscape to ensure your campaigns continue to perform.
Click on the links below to read the other articles within the Facebook in 2018 series:
- Facebook in 2018: 4 Top Issues – published April 11, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 4 Fundamental Changes – published April 12, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 3 Expectations – published April 16, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 5 Highlights from Zuckerberg’s Senate Hearing – published April 18, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 7 Highlights from Zuckerberg’s 2nd Day on Capitol Hill – published April 19, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 866 Million Pieces of Content + 583 Fake Accounts Removed in Q1 - published May 22, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 3 Reasons Facebook is Still in the Hot Seat – published May 24, 2018
- Facebook in 2018: 6 Growth Signs that Indicate Facebook Is Too Big to Fail – published June 5, 2018