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Meta’s Adding More Ad Targeting Information to its Ad Library Listings

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Meta's Adding More Ad Targeting Information to its Ad Library Listings

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytics scandal, Meta has implemented a range of data protection measures to ensure that it limits access to users’ personal data and insight, while at the same time, it’s also been working to provide more transparency into how its systems are being used by different groups to target their messaging.

These conflicting approaches require a delicate balance, one which Meta has largely been able to maintain via its Ad Library, which enables anyone to see any ad being run by any Facebook Page in the recent past.

Now, Meta’s looking to add to that insight, with new information being added to the Ad Library on how Pages are using social issue, electoral or political ads in their process.

Meta ad targeting

As you can see here, the updated Ad Library overview will include more specific information on how each advertiser is using these more sensitive targeting options, which could help researchers detect misuse or report concerns.

As explained by Meta:

“At the end of this month, detailed targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads will be made available to vetted academic researchers through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) environment […] Coming in July, our publicly available Ad Library will also include a summary of targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads run after launch. This update will include data on the total number of social issue, electoral and political ads a Page ran using each type of targeting (such as location, demographics and interests) and the percentage of social issue, electoral and political ad spend used to target those options.”

That’s a significant update for Meta’s ad transparency efforts, which will help researchers better understand key trends in ad usage, and how they relate to messaging resonance and response.

Meta has come under scrutiny over such in the past, with independent investigations finding that housing ads, for example, were illegally using race-based exclusions in their ad targeting. That led to Meta changing its rules on how its exclusions can be used, and this new expansion could eventually lead to similar, by making discriminatory ad targeting easier to identify, with direct examples from Meta’s system.

For regular advertisers, it could also give you some additional insight into your competitors’ tactics. You might find more detailed information on how other brands are honing in on specific audiences, which may not be discriminatory, but may highlight new angles for your own marketing efforts.

It’s a good transparency update, which should glean significant benefits for researchers trying to better understand how Meta’s intricate ad targeting system is being used in various ways.

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Meta Threatens to Ban News Publishers Amid Debate Over New Revenue Share Proposal

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NFTs are Coming to Facebook and Instagram – Whether You Like Them or Not

As Meta continues to lean further into AI-based content recommendations to keep users engaged in its apps, you know what it doesn’t need anywhere near as much as it used to? News content.

Meta has made this much clear, by ending its content deals with publishers, cutting its investment into news initiatives like its dedicated News Tab, Instant Articles and newsletters, and even directly noting that it’s de-prioritizing political news in-stream.

Which is why the latest push in the US to force Meta to pay more to news publishers seems particularly ill-timed.

This week, reports have suggested that the controversial ‘Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) has been added to the annual defense authorization bill, which could see it carried into law in the new year.

The JCPA would facilitate an exemption under US antitrust law that would enable US news outlets to collectively bargain with social media platforms in order to negotiate a larger share of ad revenue, in exchange for the use of their content – i.e. it would force Meta to pay for links to news content in its apps.

Which is now, and always has been a controversial policy approach. But with the Australian Treasury Department recently reporting that its similar Media Bargaining Code has been a success, and has re-directed millions into the local media market, other nations are now taking a closer look – with New Zealand now also considering its own Media Bargaining Code along similar lines.

But again, Meta probably doesn’t need news like it used to anymore, and it could cut it off entirely in response. Which is exactly what Meta has threatened to do.

As per Meta:

If Congress passes an ill-considered journalism bill as part of national security legislation, we will be forced to consider removing news from our platform altogether rather than submit to government-mandated negotiations that unfairly disregard any value we provide to news outlets through increased traffic and subscriptions.”

Now, there’s a level of posturing here, and it seems unlikely that Meta would remove news content entirely. But that is what it did in Australia last year, amid negotiations over the media Bargaining bill.

At the same time, Australia’s media ecosphere is far smaller than the US. Would Meta really move to block all US news organizations from sharing content in its apps – and if it did, what would that mean for engagement and interaction in each?

This is the key point of the debate. On one side, media organizations argue that Meta generates a heap of engagement off the back of its reporting, which then constitutes a significant chunk of its revenue, because more users engaging more often means more ads, etc.

But Meta says that news content isn’t as big a deal to it as publishers seem to think – and as Meta notes, it views this as a more reciprocal relationship, where publishers use its apps to maximize reach, which in-turn helps them drive their business.

And again, Meta has been distancing itself from news content more and more over time, and leaning into a more TikTok-like approach of showing users video clips and entertaining posts, based on AI-fueled recommendations for each user.

Given this, could Meta now be in a position to actually cut off news publishers entirely, without impacting its revenue performance?

You can bet that, with Meta announcing major cutbacks, it’s not going to be giving up any revenue easily.

It’s early days, but this could be one to watch, as Meta potentially heads for a stand-off with publishers, in several regions, in the new year.

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