May 03, 2018
There’s been plenty of outrage and schadenfreude over Facebook’s recent problems but I thought it’d be more relevant to see the ways in which the scandal may impact agencies:
1. Agencies need to be careful about uploading client data onto Facebook and other social media platforms
It’s common practice for agencies to upload customer email addresses onto Facebook to create Custom Audiences for micro-targeting. But since Cambridge Analytica showed how easy it is to extract information from Facebook and sell it on, nervous clients may pull the plug on this practice – until something better comes along. So if you’re building custom audiences using email lists obtained from your clients, it’s best to check with the client first on possible policy changes, BEFORE you upload.
2. Agencies can no longer use Partner Categories to sharpen Facebook targeting with 3rd party data
FB has announced that it’s shutting down Partner Categories. PC is a tool that allowed integration of 3rd party data from providers like Experian and Acxiom into Facebook targeting – for example, consumers’ offline demographic and behavioral information like homeownership or purchase history from Experian can be combined with Facebook data for micro-targeting. In Asia, PC was available for Australia, and Japan. But…it’s gone (for now).
3. Agencies may see a fall in ad impressions and engagements
FB is really not cool right now. Brian Acton, the Whatsapp co-founder who was made an instant billionaire by Zuckerberg, Will Ferrell (10 million FB followers), Playboy (25 million), SpaceX (2.5 million) have joined the #deletefacebook movement – with more coming on board. (FB execs are probably praying hard that Leo Messi, Justin Beiber and Rihanna don’t join the bandwagon).
Additionally, Facebook has made it much easier for users to stop ads from ever reaching them. Users may recall the bad old days when privacy settings were spread over 20 pages written in hard-to-understand legalese. So, no one bothered to try. Facebook had an epiphany and put all those privacy settings on one page, which you can visit here (see a screenshot below of how ad settings can now be easily adjusted to “no”, “nada”, “nein” and “no one”). So if users – influenced by the news flow and exhortations from friends and relatives to #deletefacebook (or at the very least #usefacebookless) – start to make adjustments to their ad settings in a meaningful way, agencies can expect to report poorer performing FB campaigns to their clients.
While Facebook recently reported stellar results for 1Q2018, the scandal only really went nuclear towards the end of March, so next quarter’s results will be a fairer indication of how the scandal has impacted the company. Stay tuned.