OH GODS FACEBOOK IS DEAD STOP BUYING ADS WE’RE ALL DOOMED
Hold on a second.
The Facebook privacy quake has already forced the social network to change the way they handle and collect consumer data. That’s changing their advertising platform. And there’s more to come.
But before you freak out and pull your clients’ dollars, stop and think. Carefully. Adjust and adapt. Don’t lop off a limb.
Here’s what’s changing, what’s not, and what you should do:
We don’t know what Facebook will do after Zuckerberg spends a week getting grilled by Congress in an election year. Here are the changes we’ve seen so far:
Shrinking Audience Size Data
Depending on targeting options you select, you can’t see leading indicators. In this example, Facebook won’t show me audience size and potential reach:
I see this more and more.
If you want to see just how rushed Facebook is right now, check out their spelling of “avaliable:”
What to do. Think like a damned marketer and know your audience. Use real, data-driven personas. Look at search data. Look at your house list.
No More Custom Audience Size
Facebook removed custom audience metrics.
We can’t see custom audience size, for example. That’s annoying.
We probably won’t be able to see trailing indicators like audience overlap and demographics, either.
What to do. Shake your hands at the sky and scream “WHY DO YOU MOCK ME.”
No More Partner Data
Data from partners like Experian is still there, but Facebook is going to remove it in the coming months. So options like this will become a thing of the past:
What To Do. Stop building campaigns based on partner data. It was nice while it lasted. Learn to use personas (yep, again).
Any app using any API will require Facebook approval. The Groups and Pages APIs must do things like “benefit the group” and provide “useful services to our community.”
That’s Facebook-speak for “forget it.”
The only exception is the Events API, which, which will no longer be able to access guest lists or post to event walls.
The Instagram API Platform was on the way out, anyway. Now, expect it to disappear that much sooner.
What to do: Don’t build apps as opt-in data harvesting tools. The APIs are going to be in flux for a while, and you may find yourself recoding, or losing data altogether. Again, use data-driven personas and search data to drive targeting across networks.
Gone: Call And Text History
Messenger has a convenience feature that conveniently shares all of your Android call and SMS data (not content). Right now, Facebook is purging data older than a year.
They haven’t done it yet, but I suspect they’ll remove this “feature.”
What to do. If you’re using SMS and call data to drive and target messenger bots and behavior, find another way before Facebook forces you to. Write smarter bots that learn and adjust intentions based on questions and language.
What’s Staying The Same
Here are some things that won’t change.
In January 2018, according to Statista Facebook had 2.1 billion active users.
If they all stood on each other’s heads, they’d be 367,400,000,000 cm high. Facebook’s audience is taller than 26 Jupiters stacked on each other!!!!
The closest competitor was YouTube, at 1.5 billion.
After that comes WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Of course, Facebook owns WhatsApp. And Instagram, which comes in 7th with 800 million users.
Call me when Facebook falls below 1.5 billion users. Until then, keep buying their ads.
Facebook targeting is still damn near miraculous. I can target geography, demographics, industries, job titles, and interests.
What We Don’t Know
It’s the things we don’t know that hurt Facebook’s viability. Facebook will probably further reduce segmentation and measurement. That could result in:
- Lost KPIs. Take away our ability to track KPIs like reach or frequency, and we can’t measure performance. That would make life difficult
- Anonymization. Removing most targeting options would reduce Facebook to a second-rate programmatic network, at which point we wouldn’t be able to do much
- Serious audience collapse. Unlikely, but you never know. Maybe 1 billion people who happily turn over a lifetime of data for cheaper credit might suddenly decide enough’s enough and abandon Facebook en masse
So yes, there’s uncertainty. Don’t let that stop you, though. A little uncertainty is good for the soul.
Right Now: Keep Advertising On Facebook, But, Stay Nimble
Until we know more:
- Set budgets for months, not years. Build in adjustments and re-assessment on a weekly basis so that you can roll with whatever Facebook throws at us
- Don’t segment based on Partner Categories
- Don’t build bots that depend on integrated Android and Messenger data. Find another way to integrate, or simplify. Or use the integrations and hope for the best
- Create real personas and use those, instead of relying on reams of exposed user data
- Diversify. Look at LinkedIn. Learn advanced targeting and remarketing options in Adwords. The hard lesson here is never, ever depend on a single ad network or, even worse, a single feature on a single ad network
- Start learning about the GDPR and preparing to comply. Don’t count on Facebook to do it for you.
Whatever you do, though, do not panic. Continue advertising on one of the world’s biggest networks. Your clients will thank you.
We’ll update this list as events warrant. If you see something new, leave it in the comments, and we’ll post that as an update, too. Or tweet changes to me at @portentint