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In the midst of a pandemic, coming off of a month-long boycott from their advertisers and with the United States’ presidential election approaching, Facebook is going through quite the hectic summer.
I’m sure everyone is equally busy, so here is a recap of the new Facebook updates and how they could affect your social media use.
Facebook updates its guidelines on text content in ad images
One of Facebook’s most anticipated advertising updates has finally been announced: the platform is getting rid of its rule limiting the volume of text in ad images to 20%.
This is great news for many advertisers who will no longer have to spend hours reworking copy and visuals specifically for Facebook to ensure the final ad would be approved by the platform!
Facebook’s justification for the 20% rule was that limiting text amount in ads was a way to make the experience of the platform more enjoyable for its users.
The updated guidelines still note that ads with less text are still preferable as they perform better than ads with more than 20% text, but this will no longer risk restricting an ad’s reach as was previously the case.
Of course, it is still vital to ensure the text in your ad is brief and clear enough to be effective, but this update will surely come as a great relief and allow advertisers to explore new design opportunities for their campaigns.
Posts in Facebook groups can now be sponsored
Sponsored posts are now available to group admins, allowing for exciting new targeting strategies for advertisers!
Admins of public groups can now publish posts sponsored by advertisers, either as a partnership or on their behalf. The sponsor is tagged in the ‘title’ of the post, which features a ‘Paid Partnership’ label below the title.
This is different from ads, which appear in groups feed and are placed by Facebook alongside posts. Ad placement is based on the advertiser’s target and varies on the user.
On the other hand sponsored posts appear to all group members and are managed by the admin the same way organic posts are.
Sponsored posts are a way for admins to capitalise on their expertise and the interests of their group members, partnering with advertisers to promote products they love and that they believe group members will too!
This option was until now available to individual users to post on their page or profile, as organic or promoted posts.
With this new Facebook update expanding the option to groups, the platform is giving advertisers access to highly active and engaged users in a way that appears more genuine and organic than ads.
Groups are a major part of Facebook’s activity: there are more than 10 million groups on Facebook, with about 1.4 billion users engaging monthly with groups. About half of them describe their engagement with groups as ‘very meaningful’.
By sponsoring group posts, advertisers gain access to a highly valuable currency: visibility to Facebook users with relevant interests, with the advantage of being posted by the group admin who is a trusted source to group users.
As with all content on Facebook, and specifically monetized content, there are of course regulations which oversee who can use this option and what kind of content it can apply to.
Groups must have at least 1,000 members and adhere to Facebook’s Partner Monetisation Policies, which regulates monetizable content and limits access to this option to admins located in eligible countries.
The risk, which exists for any sponsored content, is to lose the audience’s trust and the authenticity that gives the content its value.
With all platforms and all branded content, branded content gets its value from the authenticity that the source gives it.
If the audience doesn’t feel that the communication is authentic, it won’t have the intended effect.
Multiple ad targeting options removed due to low usage
One of Facebook’s biggest strengths in terms of advertising is the amount of targeting options and their specificity, which allow advertisers to go into a lot of detail when it comes to including or excluding people from their target demographic.
On August 11th, a new Facebook update reviewed the options and noted that over a thousand of them were not used regularly or widely enough and would therefore be removed from the list.
This is in part to streamline the options, avoiding options which were considered “redundant” or overly “granular”.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean targeting options will be any less specific or efficient!
Some of the options removed were duplicates, and you or your social media strategy shouldn’t be affected by their removal. However others are more strategic and do require a certain level of adjustment from advertisers.
For instance segments targeting “multicultural affinity” have been removed, with Facebook encouraging advertisers to turn to more specific options such as languages or cultures to reach their targets.
These removals seem more in line with previous Facebook changes like the removal of over 5000 targeting options in 2018 to avoid discriminatory, and possibly illegal, practices.
Facebook’s highly specific targeting options are very useful, but this also means they can be used to exclude certain groups of people based on attributes like their ethnicity, which is what this new Facebook update is hoping to limit.
Overall, this new Facebook update shouldn’t have too much of an impact on your strategy. Reviews and updates of targeting options are regular Facebook news, both to remove and to add segments.
The volume and precision of segment options is definitely one of Facebook’s biggest advantages as an advertising platform, and it is good to note that they are very aware of how these can be used, and are willing to amend their options to protect users from discriminatory practices.
New Facebook updates – ad library with a political ad spending tracker
We’re about two months away from the 2020 United States presidential election, and campaigns for both parties are in full swing. Regardless of where you are in the world, you probably still see news about this daily!
As a key advertising platform in the run up to the event, Facebook is taking the initiative to increase transparency on how each party is advertising on the network.
The changes are mainly aimed to allow researchers and journalists to better understand how much politicians spend on Facebook, and where.
The new Facebook update will detail what organisations support which candidate, and is adding the Vice President and other party VP candidates to its presidential spending tracker.
This tracker is designed to be easily shared in real-time and included in articles. Once again, the focus is on improving transparency and facilitating accurate reporting.
The backlash against Facebook in the wake of the 2016 US elections, most notably as a breeding ground for infamous “fake news” has clearly had an effect on the platform.
This new political spending tracker is a tool for journalists but also for Facebook to ensure they are not once again accused of political interference or ethical misconduct or political interference, as was the case during the last elections.
Facebook changes its Ad Preferences Hub
In more user-focused Facebook news, the platform is working on an update of its Ad Preferences Hub to help simplify the process and provide users with more information on how each preference modification will affect them.
The Ad Preference hub will be divided into three sections: Advertisers, Ad Topic and Data.
‘Advertisers’ details ads that a user has been shown as well as information about the advertisers who promoted them.
‘Ad Topics’ lists the topics that Facebook has identified interest you, and gives you the option to opt out of any of them.
‘Data’ lays out how Facebook acquires data about you to inform ad targeting, and you can opt out of this as well.
None of these options or settings are new to Facebook, but they are now presented in a simpler, easier to navigate hub.
With users across social media platforms raising ongoing security concerns, these Facebook changes prioritise users and ensure they are aware of how their data is used and how they can control this usage to choose the best settings for them.
New Facebook updates over the past couple of months show that they are trying to prioritise transparency and empower their users with easy-to-navigate tools for advertisers, journalists, political parties, and of course users.
The platform has grown incredibly fast over the past sixteen years (yes, already sixteen years!) and this growth has coincided with unprecedented implications of social media in advertising and politics.
To some extent, the rise of Facebook has led to an increased involvement of social media in a myriad of fields.
As laws evolve and catch up to the speed of tech giants’ evolution, it is interesting to note how platforms like Facebook face their responsibilities on individual and global scales and how they incorporate ever changing regulation and criticism to their strategy.
Not to mention how these changes impact advertisers and their own social media strategies!