Advertising on Facebook will soon have an additional hurdle to jump over: Are users are judging an ad to be offensive or inappropriate If so, Facebook will refrain from serving up that ad. It’s a big change that could make some advertisers unhappy. But not all of them: “We absolutely welcome this change,” Ben Winkler, chief digital officer at media agency OMD, said. “Crummy, irrelevant ads are bad for everybody, and they’re especially insidious in a social feed.”
As of last Thursday, Facebook users are being asked to provide feedback whenevr they “hide” an ad from their news feed. Facebook tested this program some weeks ago, with the findings (revealed in a blog post on Facebook) that many users were hiding ads because they deemed them to be “offensive or inappropriate.” Facebook clearly felt it was important to act on this finding.
The change will no doubt be well-received by users, but it could be problematic for agencies and advertisers. The pressure will be on to improve the quality of ads and to avoid lowest-common-denominator shock value advertising. While this might prevent some ads from reaching customers, Facebook said that in its tests this did not have a significant effect.
“Hiding ads isn’t a natural behavior for most Facebook users, so this isn’t likely to yield a significant amount of data,” according to Matt Wurst, general manager of social media at digital agency 360i. “On the flipside, this feedback should help marketers combine creative and media to create content experiences that people want to engage with.”
Facebook will take pains to assure that ads won’t be ruined by trolls looking to punish a particular brand. The feedback from users who rarely hide ads from their news feed will be weighed more heavily than those from serial ad hiders, the social network said.
“Facebook obviously has a long play here as well: The more relevant the ads are, the more ads a user is willing to see,” Winkler said. “Relevance equals revenue.”