Facebook’s About Face on Social Ads (Finally)

Facebook once again made a step in the right direction with consumer privacy. I’ll admit I’m not exactly sure how it happened, and based on conversations I’ve had with others in the social media space, it seemed to happen pretty quietly. Yet the whole brouhaha over Facebook’s social ad policy that really irked me at the end of last year, and bugged others to varying degrees (some much more, some less), is now more or less a non-issue.

For those who missed all the fun last December, Facebook’s Social Ads allowed marketers advertising on the site to include mentions of users’ friends who were fans of the marketer’s page or who added the marketer’s applications. In the example below, this ad is what my friends saw (and some still do, as Howard Greenstein recently informed me) after I became a fan of Blockbuster (just to test it out – I actually care little for the brand):

Facebook_endorsement_1

Howard reminded me of the issue when he saw this ad (or one like it) appear this month, so I thought I’d revisit the issue. I posted a question about this on a Facebook message board, and Marvin Foster of Lima, Ohio posted this in response:

I think the control you want is in the overall Privacy Controls

Click on privacy (Upper right on any page)

Then on News Feeds and Mini-Feeds

Then Social Ads

I think this will get rid of those.

He’s right. It works. Thanks, Marvin.

Now, it’s not EXACTLY what I want. I’d love to be in some social ads but not others. Then again, that kind of granularity is probably more work than most consumers need. Most people are fans of brands they actually like in real life (with an occasional bit of ironic fandom thrown in, of course), and so under that assumption, it’s really just a matter of how comfortable you are being featured in your favorite brands’ marketing, even when you get next to nothing in return. (You don’t get any compensation, but in a way you could say that if you like this kind of advertising, you get more exposure in your social circle paid for by the advertiser, and that could make you more relevant.)

Whenever the change happened, these privacy controls are more the rule for Facebook than the exception. Back in November, I wrote about how Facebook sets the standard for privacy control, along with LinkedIn.

So, for those of you who were so vocal back in December, what do you think now?

2 thoughts on “Facebook’s About Face on Social Ads (Finally)

  1. The answer, I believe, is going to come the brands themselves, creating opt-in campaigns using Facebook’s app platform — NOT from Facebook.
    Facebook’s business model is HIGH VOLUME ad sales. But for social ads to work, they must be opt-in (not opt-out, as in your example). Fans of a brand must choose to become ambassadors; the campaign will ultimately fail if the consumer is duped into it. But I’m not sure Facebook is set up to provide opt-in ad solutions, because they are almost by definition LOW VOLUME.
    That said, there is the great potential for brands to use Facebook’s application platform to run their own social advertising campaigns in a truly opt-in manner.
    For this reason, I believe 3rd party application solutions which ride on top of the Facebook platform have the best prospects of creating authentic social ad campaigns for brands.

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