Facebook Publisher Targeting Update Keeps Advertisers in the Dark
Marketers looking for brand safety will be let down by Facebook’s announcement to roll out new blacklist controls for placements on Instant Articles, in-stream ads, and the Facebook Audience Network.
Before running campaigns, advertisers will soon be able to see a sample list of publishers where ads might appear. This is only a minimal step-up from the current system, which gives no insight into where ads could show up. As Adweek points out, advertisers can currently only provide a list of websites and apps that they don’t want to serve ads on, without any idea if those properties are part of Facebook’s network.
Despite these changes, Facebook still has no plans to tell advertisers where their creative showed up during a campaign. This lack of transparency for off-newsfeed placements has been an understandable sticking point for many marketers.
But Facebook’s refusal to share this information tells me that it’s not confident in its ability to provide brand-safe placements beyond its newsfeed. Nowadays, anyone can start a website and add code to earn advertising revenue from visits, which is why fake news and inappropriate publishers are such a pressing problem in the ad tech industry.
The rise of low-quality publishers on ad exchanges makes it even more important for marketers to know exactly where their ads are served. Buying ads directly through publishers is one way to secure brand safety because marketers know exactly which website served their ad, the quality of its content, and where on the page their ad appeared.
Relying on block lists puts the burden on marketers to keep track of small and large publishers that don’t align with their brand, a tedious process that’s bound to leave embarrassing gaps. Adweek even points out that Facebook still lacks a policy for when ads appear where they aren’t supposed to.
At the end of the day, marketers can’t trust companies like Google or Facebook to protect their brand. Advertisers should instead pursue direct buys with publishers or seek out curated ad networks that only include trusted websites and are upfront about their members.
Facebook had an opportunity to entice marketers off of its newsfeed and toward publisher content. Instead, it chose to continue holding back vital information that marketers need to make informed media buys.
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