How Facebook’s Advertising Changes Give PR and Marketing a Competitive Edge

Posted by Taylor Haney on Thu, Jul 17, 2014

Excited to share another social media post with you this week! This post, written by Amy Lyons, President of SHIFT Communications discusses the impact changes in Facebook's Advertising have had on Marketing and PR departments.  

Amy LyonsAs President of SHIFT Communications, Amy Lyons provides the leadership and counsel to position SHIFT at the forefront of the PR industry. Primarily responsible for the overall strategic direction of the agency, Lyons is tasked with ensuring that SHIFT continues to deliver the creativity, innovation and service offerings that its clients have come to expect. Working hand-in-hand with SHIFT’s vice presidents in Boston, San Francisco and New York, Lyons pulls from a 15-year communications career and a keen understanding of the operational discipline and talent focus needed to grow a successful agency and, specifically, advance SHIFT’s mission and business objectives.

Suppose a major advertising network gave consumers the same opportunity that email marketers have given consumers: the ability to opt out of advertisements they didn't like. As a consumer, this has a certain appeal to it. From the perspective of a marketer, these changes could be a little unsettling. Let's see what Facebook has in store for both groups.

Facebook announced they are further empowering individuals to opt out of the ads they are seeing to make their experience more tailored, and in theory, more enjoyable.

This is interesting timing for Facebook to start empowering more users, especially as it continues to grow in size and works to further monetize its News Feed algorithms. Does this announcement mean brands will have to work even harder (or spend more) to reach Facebook users?

As a brand, the initial news might seem less than positive; however, these changes actually could benefit a smart brand in a variety of ways.

First, let’s take a look at how it works in practice from the user standpoint. Here’s a recent ad snapshot from a SHIFTer’s individual FB feed; this is the ad as appears natively:

shift blog 1

Using the ad dropdown menu, we get a few options to choose from that enable declining this particular ad or all ads from this brand.

shift blog 2

Diving in further in the About this Ad section, we receive this pop-up, basically echoing Facebook’s announcement about how an individual user can take more control over what ads displayed.

shift blog 3

As a brand, this is actually good news – no more guessing whether your ads are resonating with your audiences.

Additionally, Facebook's advertising system typically works on a CPM (pay per view) basis - even with some campaigns where advertisers request to pay for clicks, rather than views of their ads. By offering users a chance to opt out, Facebook is helping brands to reduce the cost of CPM campaigns.

With Facebook’s enhanced CPM model a rejected ad wouldn’t cost you anything, and you wouldn’t waste future resources targeting this individual.

There is also an earned media aspect to this announcement as well. In the past, users might just choose to ignore your ad in their feed, and you could only measure the engagement aspect of the ad.

However, consider that your reputation as a brand is also being tested. If ad after ad is rejected by users, then you might have a reputation management problem. For example, if you're a part of a brand or industry that is not well loved, then that reputation isn't just impacting your ability to obtain earned media, but your ability to see your paid media perform well once users can vote whether they want to see ads from you.

This opens up additional value for PR professionals to provide. Instead of just creating earned media, PR professionals' work will now directly impact paid media as well. Imagine the converse situation: a brand so beloved that shows high impact ads might be able to leverage its reputation and trust to help its ads perform well.

Buried in this announcement is the best news for brands - Facebook is opening up their retargeting detection abilities so that marketers can target users of other websites. From the announcement:

"Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this."

This has interesting potential, depending on the targeting options they give to advertisers. For example, suppose you are Pepsi. You might want to target people who visit Coke’s website. Suppose you're Neiman Marcus. You might want to target users of a Nordstrom app. When combined with the deep interpersonal details Facebook can uniquely provide to brands, the company is taking a further step to giving brands even more reasons to invest in its ads. This also opens up a new era of competitive intelligence and competitive marketing.

How did Facebook manage to accomplish such a broad-reaching marketing feat? The Like button is the answer to this question. With the widespread adoption of the Like button, Facebook has a back door into much of the web, similar to how Google began tracking websites with its free Google Analytics product. This announcement indicates to brands that Facebook is going further to make Google-like retargeting capabilities available, and enhancing the ad potential of the platform.

Overall, as much of a benefit these changes are to the consumer, they are an even more powerful positive set of changes for marketers and communications professionals. Test these features out as they become available!