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.
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.
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.
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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