Feeling pressure after the 2016 election, major social media platforms intend to be more transparent with ads that run on their sites, and make it easier to identify political ads in the feed through unique designation. What’s missing however are any plans to tackle issue-based ads or ads that promote a specific cause, but don’t necessarily endorse a specific politician or policy.
Amid a swirl of questions around what role social media platforms play in the current political landscape, and whether or not these entities are just tech/social media companies, we’re breaking down how these changes affect brands and marketers:
Facebook and Twitter are introducing new systems to disclose more information about advertising efforts on their platforms – essentially ads that had been coined as “dark posts” are going to be revealed and viewable by anyone. Twitter’s ad depository will live in a “transparency center,” while Facebook’s solution will require users to visit a brand’s page and select a button that says “View Ads” in order to see active ads the page is running at that moment in time. In any event, users and marketers will be able to track all current ad campaigns running on site as well as access and track basic targeting information. Specifically, for political ads, more detailed targeting and ad spend will be revealed.
How imminent is the roll-out?
Facebook will begin testing these new disclosure policies in Canada before rolling them out in the US, in time for the 2018 midterm elections.
Is there reason for concern?
No, not necessarily. Creative on other mass media channels is available through competitive tracking tools. For the first time, the social platforms will make dark posts publicly available, allowing for equal opportunity for all marketers to make use of the information. Campaign ad details will be available for users to see a week after the campaign has ended (although it sounds like this timing is unconfirmed).
How can Digitas clients benefit?
We already do a great job of monitoring competitor activity; however, this intel has been limited to a mostly organic presence. With the introduction of these tools to monitor dark posts, we can keep a pulse on all competitors’ social activity, which is more representative of a brand’s social efforts. Although it will be a manual view upon launch, we will actively be pursuing tools or data partnerships that make this sort of view more automatic in the future.