Digital Advertising: You Can’t Say Transparency Often Enough

Transparency in Facebook Advertising

Transparency, not Content, is the Real King

From the Hard Questions Series on

In the past year Facebook has committed to bringing greater transparency to the ads people see. Some of the initiatives taken include:

  • All political ads on Facebook and Instagram in the US must now be labeled as a political ad. Additionally, each ad must include a “paid for by…” disclosure from the advertiser.
  • Implementation of a searchable archive for political content that shows ads launched on or after May 7, 2018. Ad content will remain in the database for up to 7 years.
  • Publication of the Facebook Ad Archive Report (available here: Ad Archive Report). This report shows  the ad spend per each Facebook Page, including number of ads and amount spent, top search terms, and more as related to “politics and issues of national importance”. Included is obvious political content run by associations, individuals, candidates and political parties. However, the report also includes sources that are less politically overt, such as Pages for realtors, the NBA and corporations.
  • Making all ads, political or otherwise, easily available. To see every ad a Page is running, even if you are not targeted for the ad, log into Facebook, visit any Page. Select “Info and Ads.” You’ll see ad creative and copy, and you can flag anything suspicious by clicking on “Report Ad.”

Giving People More Information About the Ads They See

As Facebook explains, “The vast majority of ads are run by legitimate businesses and organizations. But bad actors can misuse ads too. By shining a light on all ads and the Pages that run them, we’ll make it easier to root out abuse.

“Finally, we introduced new policies requiring advertisers to specify the origin of their audience’s information when they bring a customer list to us.”

Facebook’s new added transparency policy for custom audience targeting went into effect this past July. The policy makes it easier for people to choose which ads they want to see, to clearly identify the source of the ad, to know why they are seeing the ad, and—most importantly—to opt out of receiving the ad if the prefer to do so, is a valuable step forward for digital advertising. Every such advancement is valuable to both advertisers and Facebook users, helping to ensure that audiences view only relevant and interest-appropriate advertising.

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