Facebook has been in the news a lot over the last year, and to be honest, most of the press hasn’t been good, especially as it applies to member data and privacy. Still, it remains to be one of the most effective advertising platforms for small and medium businesses alike given the strength of its user targeting initiatives. Yes, the same targeting that has users concerned about their privacy is a highly effective means to reaching your, well, target audience. But with all of the controversial hubbub around this online hub of social activity, does it still make sense as an advertising channel for you? Short answer, yes.
Over 2018, Facebook advertising has evolved as a response to user backlash over their highly effective methods of collecting user data and tailoring the most relevant ads possible. And this is really what makes the conversation so interesting. Look at it this way, users are going to see ads no matter what, so wouldn’t they want ads to be more relevant to them? Of course they do. Let’s say someone has a Facebook activity history that has them visiting pages and engaging in numerous discussions about Hawaii. Wouldn’t they prefer to see an ad about discount flights and hotels for Oahu over Fort McMurray or Yellowknife?
All that’s left for Facebook to clean up, is transparency. And that’s what they have done, and are continuing to do, which ultimately clears the way to earn user trust in both their platform, and your advertisements. Let’s review what’s been done to accomplish this task, and what you can expect more of in 2019.
Recent Facebook Advertising Updates and the Implications for Business Pages and Ads in 2019 (and Beyond)
Users Can Now Access Info on Ads Pages Are Running
Facebook added a feature under a Page’s Info and Ads tab that allows users to view active ads a Page is running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network. Users can also access more information about the Page, including the date created, primary locations, and any major changes to the Page overtime, so that they can form a more informed consumer opinion.
As an advertiser, you have nothing to worry about as long as your ads are “on the level”. However, one concern may be the different methods you use to target different demographics. For instance, if you use vastly different language and imagery to attract male customers, you may need to step back and ask yourself if the same ad would offend female customers. If so, you may need to reconsider your marketing messages because users can now peak behind the proverbial curtain.
Removal of Some Targeting Options (this is a good thing)
Facebook also made the decision to remove some questionable advertiser targeting options, over 5,000 to be exact. The social network didn’t go into the specifics in the press release on the matter, however the language of “We’re committed to protecting people from discriminatory advertising on our platforms” can only lead one to assume that there was potential for racial, gender, age, and lifestyle profiling.
Hearing this, you may be concerned about a reduction of 5,000+ targeting options, but fret not because there are many thousands more that will help better define your audience and target more relevant ads for them, but now without the risk of profiling. In the end, this helps remove Facebook and your ads from the threat of PR backlash (where applicable).
Removal of Partner Categories (will require some help)
Another key removal, was Facebook’s Partner Categories, which were targeting options based on data provided by Facebook’s third-party partners including Acxiom, Experian, and Oracle Data Cloud to name a few. Yes, their removal does have some implications, as data such as offline demographic and behavioral information like overall purchase history are no longer available on the platform. This won’t apply to many SMBs, but there is recourse if you find that the move impacts you as a more advanced advertiser.
For one, you can begin collecting the data yourselves with lead capture landing pages and by securing a relationship with a digital marketing firm that can assist in numerous initiatives that will allow you to build more robust customer lists from scratch. It may create more work, but it will be much more relevant to you in the long run, and it also comes without potential backlash as prospective customers will be the ones providing you with the data voluntarily.
Getting Feedback for Better Advertising Experiences
One of Facebook Advertising’s greatest improvements as it applies to transparency, is the move to prevent misleading Ad experiences. This is being accomplished by asking users (your customers?) to give feedback about their experiences when making purchases based on ads running on Facebook. Facebook has created a way for users to pinpoint both good and bad shopping experiences from advertisers and in response, Facebook will promote great sellers and remove bad ones. But don’t worry, Facebook will share feedback directly with businesses, especially when there is a high volume of negative feedback, and will provide a grace period for advertisers to take corrective action and improve messaging and customer service before taking further action.
While this may seem punitive to businesses at first, it serves the greater good and asks that businesses become more honest about their offering, and to provide excellent customer service. Those that follow suit will reap the rewards and gain favor with Facebook consumers and advertiser algorithms alike.
Have things become more complicated from a Facebook Advertiser perspective? Perhaps. But the updates dramatically improve transparency which will increase user/consumer trust in the social platform and advertising. Businesses that deliver honest, creative, and engaging Facebook ads will prevail. If you need help in this worthy task, contact Digital Marketing Collective today to learn more.