Advertisers love Facebook for its on-board analytics, optional tie-in to Instagram and of course, its 1.6 billion users. While Facebook allows those users to be bombarded with ads, the social media giant has granted additional control over which ads each user wants to see.
“We’ve all experienced a lot of bad ads: ads that obscure the content we’re trying to read, ads that slow down load times or ads that try to sell us things we have no interest in buying,” Facebook stated on its official blog Tuesday. “Bad ads are disruptive and a waste of our time.” Internet users agree and are downright tired of these types of ads on Facebook and beyond. In fact, a recent study shows that 408 million people use ad blocking programs as of March 2016.
Facebook’s updated ad preferences tools allow users to block certain types of ads or certain companies who have added them to a list. Users can even swap unwanted ad topics for interesting ones. For example, if you have no interest in an organic food company but want to see more cats, well there you go, problem solved.
“Facebook doesn’t want to deter its users from spending time on the site, which too frequent and/or irrelevant ads quite often do,” explains Lindsey Buchanan, director of social media for Ayzenberg. “By making ad preferences easier, Facebook is putting the user back in the driver’s seat. They have to. Because at the end of the day, ads can’t survive if there aren’t users to see it. Both are critical mass to Facebook’s ecosystem.”
This way, Facebook doesn’t eliminate ads, but puts the control in the hands of users to make the process more enjoyable. That means it’s survival of the fittest for advertisers, assuming that users actually utilize the new tools.
“When they’re relevant and well-made, ads can be useful, helping us find new products and services and introducing us to new experiences—like an ad that shows you your favorite band is coming to town or an amazing airline deal to a tropical vacation,” Facebook explained. “But because ads don’t always work this way, many people have started avoiding certain websites or apps, or using ad blocking software, to stop seeing bad ads. These have been the best options to date.”
Facebook is also cleaning house on the news feed, creating a filter that targets common clickbait phrases like, “I was shocked when I saw . . .” and “You’ll never believe . . .”
The latest update, rolling out over the next few weeks, will continue Facebook’s pursuit of quality control. The company is handling annoying ads and headlines as a parent would to the temper tantrum of a small child. Louder and clickbait-y content won’t cut it anymore. Either marketing teams and online media outlets deliver engaging and relevant content . . . or be ignored.