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Facebook announced a wave of new features this week for online advertisers and retailers heading into the holiday season. 

At the same time it revealed new product tags, new ways to target ads, and an experimental way to share online discounts, the social media giant also announced it was launching promotional tools and support for Black-owned businesses.

Let’s explore the array of new features for brands on Facebook and Instagram:

Product Tags For Instagram Ads

After more than a year of testing, Instagram is officially launching the ability to tag products in ads. Even better, the company has streamlined the process.Originally, advertisers had to make an organic post, tag your products, then promote that post. Now, you can create ads with product tags directly within the Ads Manager. 

When seen, product tags appear as white dots which can expand to reveal a range of details including the name of the product,and its price. 

Shopping Engagement Custom Audiences

Facebook announced a new type of audience targeting aimed at helping brands “reach people who’ve already shown interest in their product or brand by doing things like saving a product, viewing a shop, or initiating a purchase.”

Shopping Lookalike Audiences

Another new way to target audiences was announced, which allows you to reach shoppers with similar interests as your existing customers on Facebook and Instagram. 

Shopping Ad Discounts

Facebook is testing a new way to promote your sales and discounts directly in the Promotions tab within the Commerce Manager.

For example, you can highlight a discount on a specific set of products by grouping them together in product sets. 

At the moment, Facebook only allows you to run a few types of discounts – price reductions, minimum purchase requirement, and discounts using an offer code. 

#BuyBlack Friday

While the Covid pandemic has affected just about every business in America, black-owned businesses have been hit particularly hard. According to Facebook, more than 40% of black-owned businesses in America.

This is why Facebook is launching a new event every Friday through November 27. Every week, Facebook will be promoting #BuyBlackFriday across all its platforms, including publishing a gift guide and business directory of black-owned businesses. 

With many shoppers wary of facing crowded shopping malls and stores, most experts believe online shopping will shatter previous records this winter. Facebook is doing everything it can to make itself one of the premier choices for marketing, advertising, and ultimately selling your products.

What is the California Consumer Privacy Act?

The CCPA or California Consumer Privacy Act is a law recently enacted in California which extends privacy protections for residents.

While the act is big news for those living within California, many of us outside the state had not heard about the law until it recently went into effect. 

Specifically, the law requires businesses to disclose what personal information they collect and how that information will be used in relatively clear language. The CCPA also requires businesses to provide easily accessible ways to opt-out of having their information collected. 

Lastly, the law provides for Californian citizens to ask for the data which a company has collected on that person, what it has been used for, and have that information deleted upon request. 

Does The Law Apply To You?

The bad news about the law is that it does not only apply to businesses based in California. It can be applied to any businesses collecting or selling data of Californians. 

The good news is that the CCPA provides for exceptions for smaller businesses who do not primarily collect or sell data. To be affected by the law, your business must:

  • Earn more than $25 million per year.
  • Collect data on more than 50,000 persons.
  • Make more than half of its revenue from the sale of personal data.

What is unclear is how this will apply to the number of social networks based in California who sell targeted both inside and outside California. 

How Facebook and Instagram are Responding

Facebook (which owns Instagram and operates a large portion of Instagram’s advertising) has announced a new feature which automatically limits the data used to target ads – especially those targeted to Californians.

The Limited Data Use flag acts as a pixel to control how Californians’ personal information is collected and used. This means businesses can easily implement the flag for campaigns targeted in the state. 

To allow time for businesses to implement the flag, the company is automatically limiting data for a limited time on all events in California by default.

A growing number of brands are hitting pause on their Facebook ads for the month of July as part of the Stop Hate for Profit boycott. 

The advertisers, including some of the biggest brands on earth like Coca-Cola, Pfizer, and Unilever, are part of a movement which argues that Facebook has been allowing hate speech, racism, and violence run rampant while the company has also “turned a blind eye toward voter suppression on the platform.”

Who Is Involved

Currently, more than 500 companies are taking part in the boycott. For the exhaustive list of brands, check out this spreadsheet which is being updated as more brands join in.

Here are many of the most recognizable brands involved in the boycott:

  • Acura
  • Adidas
  • Artlogic
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Best Buy
  • Birchbox
  • Boston University
  • Campbell Soup Co.
  • Chobani
  • CityAdvisor
  • CLIF BAR
  • Clorox
  • Coca-Cola
  • CVS
  • Dashlane
  • Denny’s
  • Dockers
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Fossil
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Henkel
  • Herschel Supply Co.
  • Honda Motor Company
  • HP
  • J.M. Smucker Co.
  • Kay Jewelers
  • LEGO
  • Levi Strauss
  • Lululemon
  • Magnolia Pictures
  • Mars, Inc.
  • Merck
  • Merrell
  • Microsoft
  • Mike’s Hard Lemonade
  • Mozilla
  • OBEY
  • Patagonia
  • Patreon
  • Pepsi
  • Pfizer
  • Pop Sockets
  • PUMA
  • Reebok
  • Siemans
  • Six Flags
  • Starbucks
  • Target
  • The North Face
  • UnileverUSA
  • Vans
  • Verizon
  • Volkswagon
  • White Castle
  • Wingstop
  • Zoe’s Kitchen

Facebook’s Response

In response to the boycott and increasing pubic pressure, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement promising to make significant changes to how content is handled on the platform, such as:

  • Providing voting information and helping register people to vote
  • Preventing “new forms of potential voter suppression.”
  • Banning “any content that misleads people on when or how they can vote,” including removing “false claims about polling conditions in the 72 hours leading into election day.”
  • Preventing voter intimidation on the platform
  • Rejecting ads which include “claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health, or survival of others.”
  • Labeling content from public figures which would typically violate content policies. 
  • Removing content, regardless of the source, “if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote.”

In the statement, Zuckerberg emphasized that the company was attempting to balance “public health and racial justice while maintaining or democratic traditions around free expression and voting.”

So far, the public seems to feel this response is too little and vaguely worded. Since the release of the statement, at least two hundred companies have joined the boycott.

Following the appearance of COVID-19 in America in March, Facebook put in place a number of restrictions which entirely banned the sale of face masks. Now, as most states are reopening and chances of a medical supply shortage are lessening, the company is relaxing some of these rules on non-medical face masks.

Why Non-Medical Face Masks

While medical professions are still seeing a limited supply of face masks, demand for KN95 or other medical-grade masks has fallen. Instead, many are opting for cloth coverings which are considered acceptable by many health experts. 

This has created an increased demand for these non-medical face masks while reducing the overall demand for non-medical masks. 

Medical Masks Vs. Non-Medical Masks

Under these newly relaxed guidelines, advertisers can now start selling non-medical masks. According to facebook, these include masks which are:

  • Non-medical grade
  • Not promoted with medical or health claims
  • Handmade or fabric masks
  • Designed to be reusable
  • Made of refashioned materials

Phased In Restrictions

To prevent a tidal wave of advertisers all trying to sell face masks en mass or an increase in bad actors, Facebook is lifting the ban in phases. For now, advertisers wishing to promote their masks will have to meet a few specific requirements:

  • Advertisers must be in good standing with Facebook ads, having no violations or disabled ads due to policy violations
  • Ad accounts must have an advertising history of at least 4 months. This means those who created an ad account a year ago but have not used it would not be eligible, while those who have been running ads for at least 4 months will be. 
  • Ad accounts cannot be from a country with unusually high rates of ad policy violations for selling masks during the bad, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

What Can Be In The Ads

Additionally, Facebook is still mandating a few restrictions to ensure that advertisers only promote non-medical masks. 

For instance, absolutely no medical or health claims can be made in the ad, including the mention of disease prevention or protection of the respiratory system. 

Any mention of community benefits of wearing masks can not include health mentions or overstate the benefits of masks.

To give an idea what this looks like in practice, Facebook provided an example in their policy guidance:

“‘We’ve pivoted our business to making masks to help keep our community healthy’ would be allowed, but stating ‘We’re stopping the spread of COVID-19 by making masks’ would not be allowed.”

Facebook Policy

Notably, while Facebook is reducing the restrictions on masks, they are still banning ads promoting hand sanitizers, surface wipes, COVID-19 test kits, and other related medical products.

Over the past two weeks, several of the largest online ad platforms have taken swift steps to address problems with advertisers attempting to profit by stoking fears during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube have all responded in unique ways to stop the flow of misinformation, prevent profiteering, and provide new resources to protect public health.

Google Ads Blocks Advertisers Capitalizing on Crisis

This week, Google Ads updated its Inappropriate Content policy to specifically disallow content which:

“…potentially capitalizes on or lacks reasonable sensitivity towards a natural disaster, conflict, death, public health emergency, or other tragic event.”

The new regulation specifically cites price gouging, selling essential supplies that are in high demand but scarcely available, or ads that use sensitive keywords to manipulate their click-through rate.

For more details about which strategies to avoid and what keywords to be careful about using during this time, check out the full help page Google Ads has created for advertisers.

Google and Bing Block COVID-related Ads

Initially, Google had introduced a policy which entirely disallowed advertising products or services related to coronavirus across the entire platform. However, recent reports suggest they have internally revised this policy to make an exception for trusted organizations like hospitals, medical providers, or other major organizations attempting to provide reliable information to the public.

The search engine is also blocking the sale of face masks on its ad platform, following similar policies from Facebook.

Bing has taken similar steps by blocking all ads related to COVID-19, except those coming from trusted sources.

As a Microsoft spokesperson explained:

“Microsoft Advertising has taken precautionary measures to block ads for delivery related directly to COVID-19 under the Microsoft Advertising Sensitive advertising policy. This precaution also applies to some COVID-19 related medical supplies. We will only allow Public Service Announcements from trusted sources, such as official Govt. agencies, to promote COVID-19 content.”

Facebook and Instagram Block COVID-19 Ads, Create New Resources

Since March, both Facebook Ads and Instagram have been blocking the sale of face masks on their platforms. The policy has since been expanded to include hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes, and COVID-19 testing for children.

At the same time, Facebook has created several new resources for both businesses and the general public, many of which can be found in the new “Marketing for Uncertain Times” deck which contains industry playbooks and general advice for staying informed.

Twitter Gives Advertisers Leeway

After originally banning any and all ads which mentioned “coronavirus” or “COVID-19”, Twitter has revised its ad policies to allow some advertisers to mention the virus.

As the company explains:

“In response to the shifting advertising landscape, and in order to support helpful causes during this time, we’re now allowing managed clients and partners to advertise content containing implicit or explicit reference to COVID-19 in certain use cases, with restrictions.”

The specific cases Twitter will be allowing are:

  • Adjustments to business practices and/or models in response to COVID-19
  • Support for customers and employees related to COVID-19

Despite this, Twitter says it will continue to block ads which include:

  • Distasteful references to the virus
  • Content that may be sensational or likely to incite a panic
  • Inflated prices or products related to the virus
  • Ads for face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, supposed vaccines, or treatments.

TikTok and Pinterest Partner With WHO and Red Cross

TikTok and Pinterest have taken similar steps as others by blocking ads which “reference coronavirus, including when promoting products or services, to create a sense of fear, or to cause widespread offense”, as a TikTok spokesperson said.

In addition, these platforms have also been working with major health organizations around the globe to help spread relevant information and prevent misinformation.

Pinterest has been redirecting any searches on the platform to official content provided by the WHO to prevent the chance of delivering custom results which could be difficult to monitor for disinformation.

TikTok has taken similar steps by donating in-feed ad space to notable organizations including the WHO and Red Cross to ensure users have access to helpful information.

YouTube Blocks COVID-19 Ads Except From Trusted Sources

YouTube’s ad policies have largely been in-step with Google’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Initially, the platform would not allow any form of monetization on content relating to the coronavirus, citing “sensitive topic guidelines.”

Since then, the company has taken some steps to loosen that policy by allowing news organizations and reputable creators to produce videos about the issue in a sustainable way.

In a letter to the community, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki explained:

“In the days ahead, we will enable ads for content discussing the coronavirus on a limited number of channels, including creators who accurately self-certify and a range of news partners. We’re preparing our policies and enforcement processes to expand monetization to more creators and news organizations in the coming weeks.”

Despite this allowance, the company stresses it will continue to remove content that violates its policies or spreads misinformation.

After nearly a year of testing, Facebook is finally launching search ad placements for all advertisers. That means anyone can now run ads within News Feed and Marketplace search results for any search with commercial intent – such as queries related to e-commerce or retail.

Currently, search ads only appear in results on mobile devices.

In the announcement, Facebook describes how the ads appear and function within search results, saying:

“The ads are designed to fit the experience on the given search results surface (Marketplace search or general search). They look similar to News Feed ads and have the same transparency and controls, including a “Sponsored” label so it’s clearly marked as paid placement.”

To have your ads appear in search results, advertisers can simply select “Automatic Placement” or the “Facebook Search Results” placement when creating or running News Feed ad campaigns.

Notably, advertisers will have little control over how the ads are targeted, aside from broad people-based targeting options. Instead, Facebook will target the ad based on a number of details including keywords, ad features, ad text, product category, and more.

Currently, the ads support three specific campaign objectives, including Product Sales, Conversions, and Traffic Objectives.

Banner Image courtesy of Launchpresso

 

Facebook is cracking down on brands using its advertising platform to mislead or trick users with “malicious advertisements”.

As the social network announced this week, it is reducing how often it shows ads it believes are “clickbait” or mislead users, if not outright rejecting them.

As Facebook’s self-serve ad platform has grown, it has encountered growing issues with misleading or sensational ads – including political news spreading fake news. Now, it is working to remedy the problem and ensure users can trust ads shared across the largest social network existing today.

Specifically, Facebook has announced it will be cracking down on these types of troublesome ads:

Ads that withhold information:

Facebook Bad Ads - Withholding

Clickbait has become a popular way to get clicks, but it is universally hated because the actual content on the page often doesn’t live up to what the sensational headlines promise. This has grown into deliberately sharing vague ads that often start with “You’ll never believe…” or “You’ll never guess…” Now, any ads using this strategy will be demoted or disallowed.

Engagement bait:

Facebook Bad Ads - Engagement Bait

Another popular tactic to get the ever-important likes and shares on Facebook is to specifically use ads to drive these kinds of engagement without delivering any actual content with value. Facebook has already taken steps to prevent this type of advertisement, but it has continued to run rampant across the platform. However, the company says these ads will now be disallowed or receive reduced visibility.

Sensationalized language:

Facebook Bad Ads - Sensationalized Language

Over-the-top headlines may make people more likely to click, but it leaves a bad taste in their mouth when the content is not nearly as “MIND-BLOWING” as the ad suggests.

Pages that use these strategies regularly:

To reinforce its stance on clickbait or misleading advertising, Facebook is also taking aim directly at the pages which rely on these ads. As the company explains, “multiple ads flagged with low-quality attributes may impact the performance of all ads” from any offending advertiser.

All of these types of ads have become increasingly popular because they drive engagement and traffic, but these types of engagement are arguably worthless because they don’t come from real engagement or appreciation of the ad content.

Facebook is finally allowing all advertisers to run ads during users’ Stories.

The social network has been allowing a limited number of brands across three countries to create ads that appear during Stories published on the site since May, but this is the first time the company has expanded the option to smaller businesses.

Notably, during this time period, the number of people watching Facebook Stories each day has more than doubled from 150 million to over 300 million viewers.

In addition to making the ads available to a wider range of brands, the company has also rolled out a number of new tools and features to better target the ads and improve performance.

As part of these features, Facebook Stories now allow brands to optimize for all objectives available for Instagram Stories ads, including:

  • Reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Video views
  • App installs
  • Conversion
  • Traffic
  • Lead generation

Facebook has also brought all of its targeting and reporting tools for ads to Story ads, allowing brands to better track their performance.

As part of the official announcement of Story ads, Facebook emphasized how popular their Story feature has become and the impact of ads viewed during Stories:

“Advertising in stories has proven to drive valuable business outcomes. In the Ipsos survey, 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story. And brands testing Facebook Stories ads are already seeing results. iHeartRadio, Kettle Chips and KFC are among the advertisers who have seen brand lift from their Facebook Stories ad campaigns.”

The company also noted some other interesting statistics about Stories, such as:

  • More than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories.
  • 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it.
  • 34% said they went to a store to look for a product after seeing it in a story.

Facebook is changing how it handles the ads shown by Pages across the platform, with a new “Info & Ads” section that details all the ads your Page is running.

By going to a Page’s “Info & Ads” tab, you’ll be able to see every ad the company is running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook’s partner networks whether they were targeted to you or not. You can also flag suspicious ads with a “Report Ad” button.

The tab will also include detailed information about Pages, including when it was created and any recent name changes to the Page.

“The vast majority of ads on Facebook are run by legitimate organizations — whether it’s a small business looking for new customers, an advocacy group raising money for their cause, or a politician running for office. But we’ve seen that bad actors can misuse our products, too,” writes Facebook’s director of product management, Rob Leathern, and its product marketing director, Emma Rodgers, on the company’s news blog.

The change was initially announced last October as part of sweeping changes to how Facebook handles political ads but has largely flown under the radar until now.

Facebook says this is just the beginning of changes to increase transparency between Pages and the social network’s ad platform. The company will be rolling out changes to political ad labels to Brazil ahead of the country’s upcoming elections and will continue to encourage greater transparency in advertising around the globe.

Facebook is opening up a new part of its platform to advertising by letting businesses run ads in the Facebook Marketplace for the first time.

Marketplace has, until now, been an area of the site strictly reserved for users to buy and sell items. However, that is changing as Facebook is allowing ads to also be shown alongside the user-sold items.

The actions function similarly to any other type of Facebook ad, allowing you to include photos or videos representing your products or services, as well as a call-to-action button.

You can also choose to expand your currently running ads onto the Marketplace platform by changing the placement settings for your ads.

In the official announcement, Facebook said the ads would allow advertisers to be where users are most active:

“Advertising across our platforms enables you to reach your target audience wherever they’re spending time, giving you more opportunities to connect with people likely to be interested in your offerings.”

According to Facebook’s tests with select businesses, running ads on Marketplace can help generate up to 2.2X greater return on ad spend.

While this marks the first time businesses have been able to advertise on Marketplace, it is notable that Facebook recently also began allowing users to promote their listings within Marketplace, similar to how promoted posts work in News Feed.

Currently, Marketplace ads are only available in the US and Canada, and only eligible for traffic, conversion, and product catalog ads.

According to the announcement, Marketplace ads will be coming to Australia and New Zealand in the coming weeks.