As it works to provide more options for brands to manage their ad placements across its apps, Meta has announced a new partnership with brand suitability platform Zefr which will better enable advertisers to ensure that their promotions don’t appear alongside potentially offensive material, as defined by their own concerns on this front.
Zefr, which has also partnered with TikTok and YouTube on similar initiatives, utilizes advanced AI identification systems, including audio, text, and frame-by-frame video analysis, along with scaled human review, to provide a more accurate and customized brand safety solution, giving more specific placement control to ad partners.
As explained by Meta:
“We will work together [with Zefr] to develop a solution to measure and verify the suitability of adjacent content to ads in Feed, starting with small scale testing in the third quarter of this year and moving to limited availability in the fourth quarter.”
The partnership will help Meta develop better systems to ensure brand safety, while still maximizing ad opportunity.
Meta additionally notes that it’s developing internal suitability controls as another means to give advertisers more control over where their ads are shown.
“We have begun scoping and building these new controls for Facebook and Instagram Feeds focused on primarily English speaking markets, with plans to test in the second half of the year before rolling more broadly in early 2023. Over the course of the next year, we will expand placement coverage to include Stories, Reels, Video Feeds, Instagram Explore and other surfaces across Facebook and Instagram, as well as expanding to additional languages.”
Meta already offers various brand safety tools, including topic exclusions and ‘publisher allow’ lists, which provide broad-ranging oversight tools for brands. These new options will facilitate more specific control, so that brands can exclude the exact placements they choose, while still reaching as wide an audience as possible.
Brand Safety controls came into focus back in 2017 after YouTube lost millions in ad revenue when publishers started pulling their ads due to them appearing alongside extremist and hate speech content. Meta has also faced various challenges on this front – though its major ad challenges have been more specifically focused on the company’s own stances, as opposed to placement concerns.
Meta banned ad placements near NSFW content back in 2013, and has been working to refine its systems on this front ever since. Meta was also the subject of an advertiser boycott in 2020, in protest against the platform’s handling of hate speech and misinformation, which further underlined the rising concerns around the company’s perceived focus on revenue over safety.
Given this, it’s important for Meta to continue its development, and these new projects will help to improve its placement tools and options.
Meta Will Shut Down its Newsletter Platform Early Next Year
Another sign of Meta’s fleeting interest in the latest trends, the company launched Bulletin in April 2021, as part of an effort to take a piece of the growing newsletter market, with platforms like Substack seeing massive growth in facilitating direct connection between writers and their audiences. Twitter also acquired newsletter platform Revue, and it had seemed, at the time, that newsletters could offer a new, supplementary income stream for creators, aligned with social apps.
In addition to this, Meta also saw an opportunity to provide a platform for local publications that had been shut down due to the pandemic. With ad dollars from local businesses drying up, due to lockdown measures, many smaller publications had to shut down, and Meta viewed this as a chance to make Facebook an even more critical element of community engagement, by providing a direct pathway for independent journalists to serve their audiences through the app.
As part of its initial push, Meta allocated $5 million in funding for local publications to convert to Bulletin instead.
And it sort of worked. Bulletin, at last at one stage, supported over 115 publications, with more than half of the creators on the platform reaching over 1,000 subscribers.
But this year, amid tougher market conditions, Meta lost interest.
The company has been gradually scaling back its investment in news and original content in recent months. Back in July, The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta had reallocated resources from both its Facebook News tab and Bulletin, in order to ‘heighten their focus on building a more robust Creator economy’
In other words, Reels – Meta’s main investment focus for the future of the Creator Economy is short-form video content, which drives more views, more engagement, and is the big trend that Meta’s chasing right now.
As a result, Meta says that it will shut down Bulletin by early next year.
As per Meta:
“Bulletin has allowed us to learn about the relationship between Creators and their audiences and how to better support them in building their community on Facebook. While this off-platform product itself is ending, we remain committed to supporting these and other Creators’ success and growth on our platform.”
So long as they create Reels, I guess.
Again, the decision here is no surprise, but it does serve as another reminder that Meta chases whatever trends it can, and it has no real, long-term commitment on any of its new pushes.
Video is the thing, as it has been several times before, and Meta will keep pushing that till audiences lose interest. Then it’ll be something else that Meta’s pitching to brands, publishers, users, etc.
Logically, Meta follows the latest trends in order to maximize the benefit of such within its tools. But it is worth noting that, when it does lose interest, it tends to move on entirely, leaving anyone who’s invested in its last whim out in the cold.
Overall, Bulletin isn’t huge, and it won’t impact a heap of writers and publishers, as such. But even so, for those that have invested in the platform, in good faith, it’s a bitter pill, and while they will now be able to move on to other platforms as well, it’s good to remind yourself that Meta chases trends, and moves on quick.
‘Don’t build on rented land’. ‘Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket’. Don’t trust social platforms to keep supporting that feature or platform that you’ve come to rely on.
The closure of Bulletin may seem like a side note to many, but it’s an important reminder that you need to diversify your strategy to avoid such impacts.
Meta Will Shut Down its Newsletter Platform Early Next Year
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