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The Transparency Trend


the transparency trend

Last year Facebook made waves in the digital industry when Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social media platform would be taking big steps to ensure further transparency for their users. This was in response to widespread criticism from users of Facebook that the company was not doing enough to keep them well informed of the why and how of the ads they were receiving.

Facebook was also said not to be doing enough to prevent companies from taking on “bad advertising practices”. Under the category of Integrity and Authenticity in Facebook’s Community Standards, these practices are outlined as spam, misrepresentation, false news, and memorialisation.

Why does this matter to me, as an advertiser?

Users now have the option to find out “Why am I seeing this ad?” on adverts they come across in their newsfeeds, by simply clicking on the drop down menu on the top right of the post. They are also able to opt out from seeing certain types of ads, meaning they now have better control over which companies can reach them through paid advertising. Users (both in their personal or business capacity) can also go onto any given Facebook page and see which paid adverts they’re currently running. All of this is in a bid to increase Facebook’s openness about how users’ data is used to let companies advertise to them. The implications for businesses though, are that suddenly our advertising strategies have become more easily accessible to our competitors than ever before. Competitors can now see exactly what a page is currently advertising by scrolling down and clicking on “Ad library” to see the ads that are currently running.

LinkedIn has also jumped on board

Now, a year later, LinkedIn is following Facebook’s lead by adding an “Ad” tab to all pages on their platform. This also shows which ads a specific page is currently running on LinkedIn, available for anyone to analyse freely. Facebook and LinkedIn are usually considered to have very different types of target markets on their respective platforms (Facebook generally being considered as a younger, more relaxed audience, while LinkedIn is certainly considered to be more corporate and professional) it’s incredibly valuable to be able to see what companies are doing differently on each platform.

4 ways to capitalise on this transparency trend

  1. When formulating your own company’s strategy, it’s a good idea to take a look at the current ads in a competitor’s “Ad library” on Facebook to see which types of ads they consistently seem to post. If they reuse certain “formulas” in more than one current ad, that formula must be working well for them. You can then take this knowledge on board without having to spend the time and money to learn it upfront the way the did.
  2. Looking at the amount of ads your competitors are running will also inform how aggressively you should be marketing yourself. If you monitor this over a few months you might also be able to tell how certain ads are working for them. If they increase ads, they might be running a promotional campaign and getting more clients in around that time. If they suddenly start running fewer ads, it could be a slower time of the year where they know their budget is not worth spending. All of these sorts of trends should be considered and then help to inform your ultimate advertising strategy on social media.
  3. Investigate how companies’ ads on Facebook on LinkedIn differ. This will help inform you of which type of target markets they’re focusing on advertising to, how they’re advertising to them, and you may even be able to tell whether or not the advertising is effective – based on the amount of ads that are live, and how often.
  4. If you’ve lost inspiration or run out of ideas for your own marketing, go get some inspiration from your competitors! Be careful never to copy others – plagiarism and copyright are real things, guys – but take inspiration and turn it into your own, better, more original idea!

A few things to keep in mind

This sort of insight into what our competitors are doing is incredibly useful when building strategies, but also a little bit worrying for us as brands. Yes, we can now see others’ activities, but we shouldn’t forget that they can also see ours. It’s a double-edged sword, and you can’t really win either way. The best way to work with this trend is to use it to your advantage where you can, in building strategies, and then doing your absolute best to put out amazing content in every step after that. Worrying about who is watching your activity will only be counter-productive. Focus on making your own brand great through informed marketing strategies and you’ll do much better.

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