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What Facebook’s Increased Transparency for Ads and Pages Means for Organizations

by Alexander Peiniger on July 10, 2018

Last week Facebook launched some new updates regarding transparency for ads and pages. With this article, I want to give you a comprehensive overview on what exactly Facebook changed and how we at quintly believe these changes will affect the industry going forward. Facebook has been criticized heavily in the last years for how specific advertisers used ads on the platform, so it’s great to see that some of the initiatives to react to that are going public.

Full transparency on active ads

Probably the most interesting transparency feature that Facebook released is a new tab about any Facebook page that will show all the active ads that are running in regards of that page. Here is an example of Coca-Cola US.

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As you can see you will get a full list of all the ads that are currently running. By using the drop-down menu, you can choose between the different countries the ads are running in. You can’t see any more specific targeting or the amounts spent, but it makes fully transparent what content is promoted. This will be very interesting for multiple different reasons that we will analyze below.

On the right side of the page, there is a box that will show you if a page is or was running political ads. For Coca-Cola US this looks like this:

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By clicking on “Show Me” you come to the “Archive of Ads With Political Content” that Facebook created because of all the discussions around manipulative ads used in the different elections around the world.

To get to this ads transparency page, you can just click on the “Info and Ads” link in the left sidebar of each Facebook page. If the link is not shown, you can just navigate there by adding “/ads” to the end of the URL (e.g., https://www.facebook.com/CocaColaUnitedStates/ads/).

More information about pages

Besides the ads transparency, Facebook also shares more general information about the history of a page. You find this information on the right side of the ads transparency page. In the example of Coca-Cola US it looks like this.

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You can see when the page was created and which changes have been made to the name of the page in the past.

What does this mean for organizations?

As these changes make previously private ads data available to third parties, there are a lot of chances and challenges that organizations need to address. Here are a few different use cases how I can see brands using the new possibilities.

Getting more authentic with advertising

All ads run by a page will be public from now on, which means there are no hiding tactics anymore. Therefore brands need to make sure they present an authentic picture with the ads. This will probably mean that many ads will have to go through an additional internal check. The difference that now anyone can see the ads, and not just the people in the target audience, will give less room for micro-targeting to specific audiences where the purpose of the ad could be considered on the edge of what is acceptable.

Analyzing ads of competitors

Of course, the new transparency also creates big opportunities, and one of them is that you will get full transparency on what ads your competitors are publishing. You can’t see the targeting used or the budget, but it will give you a general feel how you compare in your paid advertising strategy. It’s also a great resource to get inspired and learn from your practices. I’m only waiting for the first solutions to automatically create ads based on ads of a competitor.

Using ads transparency to derive best practices

One other upside is that it’s now possible to learn from any brand out there no matter if it is in your industry or outside of it. I expect that we will soon see big analyses on the content of ads. The outcomes will give valuable insights to smaller advertisers that don’t have the money to get advice from advertising agencies.

Gathering ads data for research

The added layer of transparency also offers excellent new opportunities for researchers from various fields of science to uncover how relevant actors use social media advertising. No matter if it’s for economic studies or political research, it will now be more accessible than ever to shed some light on previously hidden ad usage in both commercial and political campaigns.

How will quintly incorporate this data?

At quintly analyzing such data is at the core of our mission. There is not yet an API for the ads transparency data, but when that changes, we will look at the best possible way to add it to our product. With our current competitive benchmarking offering you can already get a lot of insights on what your competitors are doing including some first metrics for paid advertising, but of course, this new data would bring this to the next level.

Conclusion: There are more ups than downs

Overall I think that it was a great decision by Facebook to open up this data to everyone out there. In the end, it will lead to more authentic and fair use of ads on the Facebook platform. When looking at it from a brand perspective, I believe there are more ups than downs, and therefore brands should analyze how they can integrate the new data into their strategies.I’m curious about your opinion and how you think this will affect your company. Feel free to tweet us via @quintly and @alexpeiniger or send us your message to support@quintly.com.

Alexander Peiniger

Alex is CEO and founder of quintly. He drives growth and business development and manages the day to day operations of the company. He is also working with our clients to make our product the best in the market.

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