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Giving More Control to Advertisers on Facebook

With nearly two billion active users and over five million advertisers on its platform, Facebook is major marketing medium. Many marketers appreciated its extended access, but what they didn’t not care for was the lack of control over ad placement. Now Facebook is doing something to address that concern.  John Donahue, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Sonobi spoke with me about the latest development.

On September 13, Facebook announced newmonetization eligibility standards“ to assure its millions of advertisers  that they can “feel confident and in control over where their ads appear.” The new guidelines offer greater “detail on the types of content that advertisers may find sensitive” so that they can decide if they want to prevent their ads from appearing on the pages that feature sensitive content.

Content producers are told that they should look to the guidelines to anticipate “what types of content are likely to generate more revenue.” They are also warned “that even if your content is eligible for ads, some brands and advertisers may choose to use brand safety controls to tailor where their ads run.”

Facebook’s new standards are already in place for videos. They will also be applied to Instant Articles, though the company did not say when.

The appeal of Facebook for marketers, Donahue said, is its “highly efficient reach.” The drawback of the platform has proven to be the “lack of ability to limit the content” against which ads appear. That raised the question for marketers if there is “a way to give us what we like from Facebook without compromising quality?”

This move is intended as the beginning of an answer to that question.  “At least you know where you shouldn’t be and what controls you want” in place. He observes that any improvement in ad control has the positive effect of “extending the value proposition for efficient reach.” 

Donahue marvels at the fact that it has taken this long for Facebook to address the problem. He believes the push here comes from the context of the “fallout from YouTube” and the “lack of trust” in the video content on the side of the advertisers.

It may be a video that people find offensive or one that just does that sets up an inappropriate context for the brand. He offered examples like an ISIS video or one that shows teeming fire ants in Houston after being hit by Harvey. Associating a brand — except maybe an exterminator — with such events does not contribute to their marketing goals.

He acknowledges that the human tendency to share the “sensational,” which often includes content that many would find “shocking” or even offensive is at odds with the context most brands would prefer for their ads.  He said that’s the “reason why tabloids are a thing; we all love a bit of sensationalism.” On Facebook, “the more provocative the content the more that content gets seen.” 

But for brands there really is such a thing as bad publicity.  “What’s come to light in last six months is lack of quality and possible brand violations,” he observed.  Now Facebook has address a “way to cure that.”

It’s about using their abilities to improve the platform for marketers. Facebook continually works at developing and enhancing “user control.” The new standard are about extending “similar control” for advertisers.  That’s a good thing for marketers, and for Facebook’s revenue from them.

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