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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.

Facebook is using machine learning to launch a number of new personalization features for advertisers, as the company recently announced.

The goal is to make it easier for brands and advertisers to customize ads for their potential customers without having to create several distinct ads.

Dynamic Ad Formats and Ad Creative

When using Facebook’s Dynamic Ads, brands will be able to us the company’s machine learning model to predict a user’s ad format preference and deliver the best ad for their taste. This helps guarantee the best chance of catching users’ attention and driving clicks or conversions.

“The dynamic formats and ad creative solution aims to meet people where they are in the customer journey by delivering a personalized version of the ad to everyone who sees it,” Facebook said.

Multiple Optimized Text Options  In Single-Media Ads

The company has been testing a method for delivering responsive ads with multiple options for ad text, headlines, and descriptions for months, and is now officially launching the feature.

With this feature, advertisers can set a number of unique ad descriptions, headlines, or primary texts which are then selected by Facebook’s machine learning model based on users’ preferences.

Auto-Translated Ads

Lastly, the company announced that advertisers can select languages for their ad to be automatically translated into when using Ads Manager. By automatically,

As the company announced:

By using the “add languages” feature, advertisers can reach their international customers with messages in the local language quickly and efficiently. This helps advertisers save on resources to produce their own translations for key languages, while giving them controls to review and provide their own translations

Why It Matters

These features all work to speed up the process of creating ads for a wide range of users and audiences. Using signals directly from users, the company is able to deliver the best version of your ad for each user and create the best chance for your ads to convert every time they are shown.

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 changing how videos and photos appear on mobile devices, with new aspect ratios for visual posts and less accompanying text in the mobile news feed. 

This means you’ll have to make some changes when optimizing for Facebook’s mobile news feed if you want everything to appear properly in your posts.

What’s Changing

In the past, images on Facebook were optimized for a taller 2:3 aspect ratio to a more square 4:5 aspect ratio. 

Anything taller than that will be cropped out in preview images within the news feed, only actually viewable to those who tap to see the full image. 

At the same time, the platform is reducing the lines of text accompanying these posts – going from 7 lines of text to just 3 lines. 

Anything longer than that will be hidden behind a prompt to show additional text. 

Both of these changes will be put into effect starting on August 19th, giving you a few weeks to make adjustments to your upcoming posts. 

According to a spokesperson from the company, the tweaks are “designed to simplify our formats and improve the consistency of our mobile experience.”

In turn, the company says the new post format will increase the impact of mobile ads and make it easier to use the same content across both Facebook and Instagram.

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 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.

Facebook’s Stories are officially being monetized, as the social network announces new ads within their latest big feature.

The rising popularity of Facebook’s stories has been a slow growth. It has taken approximately 14 months since the launch of the feature to reach 150 million daily views.

To put that in context, Instagram’s Stories reached the same milestone within five months. Since then, Instagram Stories have continued growing to reach more than 300 million daily users.

Of course, now that Facebook has amassed a sizable audience for the feature, Search Engine Journal reports the platform is adding ads to Stories.

Facebook began testing ads in Stories earlier this month in North America and Brazil earlier this month. The ads consist of 5-to-15 second video clips, which can be skipped by simply taping through to the next story.

Compared to most of Facebook’s offerings, these new ads are relatively bare-bones. There is no click-through, no call-to-action, or any of the other ad features you are used to. However, Facebook plans to add those soon.

Along with the launch of Story ads, Facebook is working on bringing more detailed analytics about the performance of Stories to businesses, to help monitor your investment.

If you already have Story ads running on Instagram, you can automatically migrate them to Facebook. Or, you can let Facebook automatically format your news feed ads for the Story feature, including a color-matched border and text at the bottom.