Will Facebook Advertising Survive After the Cambridge Analytica Scandal?

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September 18, 2018 5 min read
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Facebook has been at the center of a scandalous storm about privacy manipulation issues and has made it clear that it is making changes to fix its reputation as well as its consumer reliability adequately. But will it be enough? We are all aware that Facebook is a company whose revenue derives from advertising, and it looks for ways to grow and engage users by creating attractive and innovative advertising solutions in hopes to gain more market share from other online giants like Google and Bing.

Related: 3 Key Changes to Facebook Advertising After a Year of Scandal and Regulation

Facebook removes hundreds of targeting options to protect users’ privacy.

As an integral part of their attempt to retain their customer base, Facebook has decided to cease its data acquisition from third party providers. The Mountain View giant used to provide advertisers with targeting options such as income, purchasing intent and credit card usage. These targeting options won’t be available anymore, and users are guaranteed with more privacy. Facebook’s ad business reputation might be damaged in the short term, but if the company wants to survive and flourish, it needs to eliminate these options.

What about the advertisers?

Cutting ad targeting options is a double-edged sword. It can benefit Facebook as much as it might harm it. However, what makes the platform so valuable is its user base. That is why it makes a lot of sense to preserve it.

Advertisers will still have many ways to leverage their own data to create highly targeted and successful audiences. For instance, companies can upload their own email database and create lists of users with similar behaviors. These “lists,” also known as lookalikes, are not going to be providing you with an actual set of names, but it will create an anonymous target audience that you can use.

Related: Facebook Has Changed and Your Digital Strategy Has to Adjust

Additionally, advertisers will still be able to run remarketing campaigns — which is very useful when targeting users who visited your website and did not convert — and be able to focus interests by categories.

Facebook was, and is still, thinking one step ahead.

When Facebook launched product catalog ads, advertisers could push specific products to users based on what they had previously visited on the site. This has rapidly become one of the best converting campaign types on Facebook.

Facebook can determine the success of a campaign through the installation of a conversion pixel that collects information about users and anonymously reports who is converting. The majority of advertisers on Facebook use this sort of pixel, and it creates a vast, anonymous data source that advertisers can use — the lookalike campaigns we discussed above.

Shortly after launching this campaign type, Facebook released a new campaign targeting specific products that are likely to successfully match with buyers. This is an apparent move towards behavioral marketing, which is a way to target people based on their behavior online. Behavioral targeting is based on leveraging the information that is collected by the Facebook pixel to predict the likelihood of a certain group of users to perform a purchase.

Related: Deep Learning and ‘Hyper-Personalization’ are the Future of Marketing Automation

Facebook will likely work on replacing all the third party targeting methods with their database of user behavior built within the same Facebook platform. That’s great news for advertisers because they will be able to target quality users, and it’s good news for the users because all the information is being collected anonymously from Facebook and not through third parties, protecting their privacy.

Even though this type of technology is not new — it has been used by Google Ads — it is meant to find a compromise between privacy for the users and a need of targeted audiences for the marketers.

Facebook is working on giving more control to advertisers.

Facebook is working on a similar approach to Google when it comes to giving advertisers the possibility to choose what kind of content is allowed to display in their ads. This could be interpreted as a brand “safety tool.” For instance, advertisers could decide to not show ads with political content or any other content they don’t believe would fit with a specific brand.

In today’s world, brand awareness is key to a profitable business, and the effort of Facebook to give more control to advertisers is definitely a step in the right direction.

Related: These 2 Major Trends Are Altering the Media Landscape. Here’s How You Can Be Prepared.

What can we expect in the next six to 12 months?

After speaking with people from Google and Facebook, it seems very clear that advertising is moving towards targeting behaviors rather than merely searches. Behaviors allow marketers to target a much larger population of potential customers at a much better cost per ad view. The market will shift more toward this direction, but users’ privacy will play a much more significant role than ever.

Why? Because the move towards behavioral marketing will also mean targeting people at a different stage of the purchasing funnel than people searching on Google. This means people are more likely to be exposed to a product or service across multiple devices and platforms, making cross-device tracking and attribution a growing need for any business. We are more than sure Facebook is already thinking ahead and working on that.


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