Welcome to your weekly Future of Media
We need to talk about Facebook
Five articles from the Wall Street Journal dropped big Facebook revelations this week, some you'd assume were true, some were new.
These covered: whether there was a secret elite getting around policy rules; unreleased research that detailed how Instagram was ‘toxic’ for many teens; news that its 2018 algorithm redesign made the site angrier; that its content moderation (although vast) had gaping holes; and how it has made efforts to combat anti-vax struggled against the misinformation machine. (All here). Then the announced departure of CTO Mike Schroepfer marked a busy week.
Responding to the sorry affair in its ‘newsroom’, vice-president of global affair Nick Clegg wrote ’What the Wall Street Journal Got Wrong’ in response to the teen research story.
“These stories have contained deliberate mischaracterizations of what we are trying to do and conferred egregiously false motives to Facebook’s leadership and employees,” said Clegg, who knows a thing or two about egregiously false claims after U-turning on his Liberal Democrat tuition fees pledge.
He then failed to really detail ’What the Wall Street Journal Got Wrong’.
In journalism, corrections are often issued over email – it’s usually a few short bullet points. The journalist can dispute the correction or amend the piece. Some corporate PRs opt to threaten and coerce a softer angle. A report from Mother Jones accused Amazon of doing just that earlier this year. There’s friction here, but there’s a process that requires the complainant to faithfully engage with the article and detail the shortcomings.
Instead, Clegg attempted to discredit what turned out to be one of the biggest investigations undertaken by one of the world’s leading publications, without substantiating his claims. No doubt Facebook felt under siege. But it doesn’t get to be outraged if you’re being bombarded by truth bombs.
The worst is yet to come. Founder Mark Zuckerberg was active on his social network, seemingly upset that the Times didn’t know what a hydrofoil board was. This is a mistake he appears to have wrongly labeled as “defamation”.
Come on, surfer dude, Facebook’s scale is unsurpassed in the history of humankind – approaching 2.89 billion monthly active users. Can we take all of this a little bit more seriously, please?
During this, Graham Mudd, vice-president of product marketing at Facebook, slipped out a technical post in the newsroom foreshadowing a “change” in advertiser performance and measurement. God only knows Facebook’s been promising more transparency since 2016 because demonstrating advertising effectiveness is vital to its existence. But this time, a welcome change. It appears to be underreporting, which is unlikely to spark another boycotts from hundreds of top brands.
They don’t last and they don’t really impact the bottom line. The top 100 advertisers make up less than 20% of Facebook’s ad revenue. There are more than 9m advertisers on the system. Many of these SMEs find that it works well for them. And top brands usually/often seem to think so too (although there are dissenters).
With regulation, social competition, user and advertiser fatigue, and, most importantly, a tech war to consider, Facebook’s going to have to get better at sorting its shit out and handling its comms.
Mudd’s blog said Facebook is under-reporting iOS web conversions by approximately 15%. Advertisers will have seen a downturn in performance that was merely a huge swatch of Apple users being missed (because of its new privacy framework). Apple users now have to opt-in to allow advertisers to track them. You wouldn’t expect many to grant Facebook – whose egregious use of tracking has well documented – this access.
I’m going to leave you with a Gizmodo piece that details how any coming ad boycott of Facebook is “doomed”. Users and advertisers alike seem to be stuck with Facebook and its many apps. We love them and wish they loved us back.
If you’re a media buyer or advertiser with a budget going into Facebook, I welcome your thoughts on the above issues – either on record or anonymously. My contact details are at the foot of this article.
More top reads
I’ve run out of space to talk you through more of our top stories this week. It’s Facebook’s fault. I’m sorry. Anyway, without further ado...
Why media buyers are giving a cautious welcome to Rupert Murdoch’s GB News rival TalkTV [Join me in welcoming the fantastic Hannah Bowler to the team]
Apple’s iPhone Privacy Update: the one iOS 15 change that has marketers spooked [Kendra Clark gets into the iWeeds]
Bake or break: how Channel 4 transformed buildings and people into cake for GBBO [I went into detail on a fantastic launch campaign for GBBO – using digital out-of-home, digital video and AR, it turned a bunch of stuff into cake]
Ad of the Day: Balenciaga’s 3D Fortnite billboard wows London, New York, Tokyo & Seoul [We’re excited about 3D billboards – this is an ad we wanna look at]
‘Watch this space!’: BT on how interactive Street Hub 2.0 fits into OOH media mix [BT’s new DOOH units can do a lot of cool stuff you’re going to like]
Reddit CMO on first UK campaign: ‘We try to pay homage to our unique communities’ [It made some interesting use of media]
Cognac Rémy Martin serves out-of-the-box ads on Facebook and Instagram [This ad escapes its ad units, sort of – I like]
The Washington Post debuts ad-buying network Zeus Prime [Long-awaited, will it meet expectations?]