Facebook’s Attempt at Ad Transparency: Pass or Fail?

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Recently Facebook has taken a lot of heat for its questionable role in privacy protections, ethical marketing practices, and even national security.

In an effort to foster more transparency, there will be a new section in a business’s Facebook page allowing any user to view all active ads that the page is currently running. In addition to this, these pages will have another section where users can see basic information such as recent name changes, date of creation, etc.

Theoretically, this will help ordinary users understand what they’re seeing when it comes to Facebook ads. They now have the tools to look deeper into why they are seeing the ads that they see, and who they are coming from. Facebook users will also be able to flag ads that violate Facebook policies, which will then be further reviewed.

So, What Happens Now?

What does this mean for a marketer like myself? When these new features were first announced, many people were confused and unsure whether or not this would be good for business. Facebook ads were taking longer to get approved, falling under more scrutiny, and thus causing delays for advertisers with deadlines to make. While I find nothing wrong with Facebook implementing stronger oversite for the ads they allow on their platform, hopefully this process will become smoother over time.

Another concern was that this would be the end of Facebook dark posts, which are ad posts that appear only for an audience you have targeted, and do not show up on your page for people outside of this target. This is useful if there is a particular audience you want to run certain ads for, say an ad promoting a new customer special for your business. You can have these ads show up for potential new customers without existing customers seeing them.

If anyone can now see all the ads you are running, it almost defeats the purpose of dark posts altogether. Only time will tell what the future holds for dark posts.

A New Spy Tool for Marketers?

The most obvious benefit of Facebook ad transparency is that it ads another layer to competitor research. Being able to see your competitor’s active ads gives you more insight into their social media marketing tactics – though they can also do the same with you. Understanding each other’s methods and strategies, like what products are being focused on, which types of ads are used most, etc. makes for more competitive advertising and, hopefully, makes us stronger marketers overall.

Though it is still unclear which Facebook features and social media tactics will survive this new shift in policy, more transparency is always welcome and businesses and groups that utilize Facebook advertising should have more accountability for the things they put out to the public.

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