Facebook Ads and The FTC: Your Digital Marketing Weekly Roundup
Welcome, everybody – young and old, short and tall, thin and not so thin, hairy and balding (hmm, I embody the latter of each of those – what happened?)! Welcome to your Digital Marketing Weekly Roundup.
Facebook has been updating its Ad Preferences policies, and the US’s Federal Trade Commission has been making a noise about full disclosure on sponsored posts. Our ears should be pricking up on both counts.
Let’s take a closer look…
FTC Clamps Down On Sponsored Posts Transparency
Influencer marketing is one of the greatest weapons in the content marketer’s arsenal. If we can get on the radar and then receive endorsement by a recognised industry professional or celebrity, or get our posts onto the blog pages of a highly revered website, then we can be sure that we’re going to be enjoying an increase in traffic at the very least, and new business hopefully off the back of it.
But, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has called for greater transparency from advertisers who buy the services of an influencer to promote their brands and products.
In an interview for Bloomberg, Michael Ostheimer, a deputy chief in the FTC’s Ad Practices Division, warned that advertisers will be required to fully disclose information on sponsored posts in a clear and concise fashion.
“We believe consumers put stock in endorsements and we want to make sure they are not being deceived,” explained Ostheimer, elaborating that the simple inclusion of hashtags like “#ad,” “#sp,” “#spon,” and “#sponsored” are not sufficient to convey to users that posts have been sponsored.
“If consumers don’t read the words, then there is no effective disclosure… If you have seven other hashtags at the end of a tweet and it’s mixed up with all these other things, it’s easy for consumers to skip over that. The real test is, did consumers read it and comprehend it?”
MediaPost clarified some of the new standard’s rulings:
“Importantly, on sponsored video posts the disclosure must be spoken out loud or displayed on screen.
“Additionally, all forms of compensation should be disclosed, including those beyond straightforward cash payments, including free products and services provided to influencers by brands or agencies.”
The long and the short of it is that the FTC wants advertisers to play fair with consumers, and so, if you’re not practising full disclosure in your influencer marketing efforts already, it’s time to revise your operation.
Facebook Delivers Additional User Controls For Ad Preference Tools
Digital marketing is a constant battle. As content marketers, our very raison d’être is to ensure that as many internet users discover and engage with our content as possible. Indeed, the social networks that we use in order to try and achieve this are, kindly enough, constantly figuring out new ways and providing new means for us to do so.
However, these very networks are conscious of the end user experience as well. And so, for every new convenience that the likes of Facebook creates for advertisers looking to target their promoted content, so do they create a new innovation for the end user to essentially block the marketer’s efforts.
And so it is the case with the latest update from Facebook, which has expanded user control in its Ad Preference tool.
The Facebook Newsroom explains that Facebook has been “making ad preferences easier to use, so you can stop seeing certain types of ads. If you don’t want to see ads about a certain interest like travel or cats, you can remove the interest from your ad preferences. We also heard that people want to be able to stop seeing ads from businesses or organizations who have added them to their customer lists, and so we are adding tools that allow people to do this. These improvements are designed to give people even more control over how their data informs the ads they see.”
Here’s the video:
The update means that digital marketers buying Facebook Ads need to ensure that they are paying closer attention to their targeting efforts. Money will now be wasted trying to get our ads in front of uninterested users who can now simply flick a switch to block them. The lesson is that we must understand our audiences better and ensure that we deliver what they want only to those that want it.
Facebook Overrides Ad Blocking Software
Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away.
As I imply above, the content marketing battle is at times confusing. Facebook wants users to have the option of being distracted by fewer ads, and so have updated their Ad Preferences tool to accommodate.
However, in the very same blog post, Facebook has announced that Ad Blocking software will no longer work for users of the network. The justification that Facebook gives positions the network as making this update on behalf of its users – though the more cynical of us will naturally suspect that this is yet another move by the social media giant to exercise even greater control over its users.
“We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software. When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.
“Some ad blocking companies accept money in exchange for showing ads that they previously blocked — a practice that is at best confusing to people and that reduces the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web. Facebook is one of those free services, and ads support our mission of giving people the power to share and making the world more open and connected. Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we’re putting control in people’s hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls.”
Thanks, Facebook. Seriously.
The big takeaways from this week are to make sure we are practicing full disclosure for our sponsored posts, and that our targeting efforts on Facebook have been well-researched.
That’s it! I’m going to go back to being old, tall, fat and balding for another week, and I’ll see you next time!