A new online breadcrumb has emerged, offering further insights into brands’ online advertising strategies. Facebook and Twitter have opened their data doors, giving full transparency into the ads a brand page or account is running on their platforms. Much like Google AdWords, this now publicly available information offers more clues re: your competitor’s strategy and focus.
Social giants increase ad transparency
Twitter and Facebook both announced they will be launching new pages featuring detailed insights into how brands are spending on their platform in a major push for increased data transparency.
According to VentureBeat, in Twitter’s Ads Transparency Center, “anyone — whether they are a registered Twitter user or not — will be able to see all of the campaigns that an advertiser has run within the past 7 days by searching for that advertiser’s Twitter handle.”
Facebook added a new button called “info and ads” at the top of a Page. “Page info” will allow them to see information like when the Page was created and if its name has been changed. The “active ads” section will allow users to see what ads that page is currently running across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. In response to pushback from news organizations who felt their ads and promotions should not be shown next to ads from brands and organizations, they’re also creating a separate “promoted news” section.
Amanda Grant, a managing partner and U.S. head of social at media agency GroupM, said, “We have the ability with a platform like Facebook to serve very targeted customer messages — now that’s going to be all very open to the public and it will be interesting to see how and if that has any effect on users perspective of companies.”
While initially developed in the wake of political fury in the US over trolls and hyper-targeting and aimed at political ads, access to this information can be useful for brands in addition to enabling the public to flag suspicious activity or better understand how they’re being advertised to. As well, it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to their marketing strategies.
Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, noted in WIRED that we can expect to be able to see an advertiser’s overall purchasing behavior on Facebook to see who they’re targeting in general and how, via an API to be released later this year.
In addition Twitter also announced today that it would be releasing its own issue ads policy soon. Facebook’s issue ads policy dictated that ads that dealt with any of 20 topics determined by Facebook to be politically contentious be labeled. While well-intentioned, this new policy has some wrinkles to iron out. According to Digiday, “frustration has mounted since ad buyers — even executives at major media-buying agencies — have been unable to properly identify what ads need to be labeled as political.”
Why social advertising data transparency is a big step in competitive intelligence
This new source of publicly available external data offers additional breadcrumbs to analyze and can reveal key insights about a company’s marketing strategy. The ability to see who a company is targeting, and where, will give anyone looking out visibility into their self-selected key audience, which is much more reliable than a reactive educated guess. As well, the products and messaging they choose to promote reveals where they’re focusing and what business lines they’re prioritizing. For instance, you can gain visibility into all the promotions your competitors are running, which versions are performing best and which countries they’re promoting in.
Based off this information, and combined with a company’s strategy on Google AdWords, which needs to be built 6-8 months in advance to garner traffic, a competitor can potentially be able to predict what that company is going to do next, and stay one step ahead.
Additionally, the information exposed by Facebook re: changes in page name and country stands to open up brands to new levels of transparency. This information, for example, presents some clues into the often cheeky strategy some brands have used to get found more easily and acquire more fans.
As pressure rises for big data houses to become increasingly transparent, more breadcrumbs from external data will become discoverable, presenting even more opportunities for companies to gain a deeper understanding of their competitive landscape and bring Outside Insight into their everyday decision-making processes.