Facebook’s Brand Safety Measures Don’t Measure Up

Brands that advertise online are becoming increasingly wary of being associated with extremist content. Having your ad appear in the wrong context can be a killer blow to any brand’s reputation. Facebook is responding by giving advertisers more visibility into where their ads are appearing. But many in the industry say the new features don’t go far enough.  

“According to an announcement being made Sept. 10, advertisers can now see where their ads might appear on in-stream videos, including those in Watch and Instant Articles, before, during or after a campaign, so they can block specific publishers or content categories from those placements,” writes Seb Joseph in Digiday. “They can also review and update from a list that Facebook regularly adds to.

“Those lists, however, only let advertisers block publishers they’re aware of, which means their ads could still appear against unsuitable content from publishers they don’t know,” Joseph continues.

“If you block a publisher post-impression, the possible damage has been already done and all you do is limit the reach,” said Christian Dankl, chairman at contextual targeting platform Precise.TV. “To ensure brand relevance and safety, Facebook should offer the ability to create a publisher whitelist and give full control in the hands of advertisers.”

Full control? Not likely. In fact, Facebook being “too powerful” is one of the key reasons why droves of users are leaving the platform, according to Rani Molla of Recode as quoted in an article in What’s New In Publishing.

“This is happening as a sort of backlash rises against social media: The idea that it’s a bad use of time, that the companies don’t take user privacy seriously enough (notably Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica debacle) and that Facebook, in particular, is too powerful,” says Rani Molla, Data Editor at Recode.

This is making many rethink their use of the platform.

“Significant shares of Facebook users have taken steps in the past year to reframe their relationship with the social media platform,” says Andrew Perrin, Research Analyst at Pew Research Center.

How significant? Forty-two percent of Facebook users have “taken a break” in one way or the other over the past year, and one in four has deleted the app entirely from their phones.

Tellingly, younger users are more likely to have adjusted their privacy settings, too. 

So while advertisers struggle to maintain their brand reputation, it looks like Facebook is becoming less important to them by the day. And that’s probably a good thing, as consumer confidence in social media continues to fall.