Taking an unprecedented step toward total transparency, Facebook just introduced the new Facebook Info and Ads tab on Facebook Business Pages.
This new tab, allows Facebook Users to see all of the Facebook Ads currently being run by a Facebook Page. Since Toys R Us is not currently running ads (I’m pulling for the comeback), there are not any ads to be displayed. But for almost every other major brand, there are plenty of ads to sift through in this feed.
From the Facebook Q&A about the update, Sheryl Sandberg said “Starting today, you can go to any Page on Facebook and see the ads that Page is running. Whether they are running on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger or on our partner network. Importantly, even if the ads are not targeted to you.”
This is the most impactful change ever made to Facebook Advertising for brands and advertisers. While Facebook is proving in its actions that they are serious about transparency and trust, this change may prove to overly upset those who are paying the bills.
Impacts of Facebook Displaying Brands Facebook Ads
Here are a few of my initial thoughts on the impacts of this change. Since the ability to view all of a Facebook Pages ads is new, there will definitely be impacts that I have not thought of yet.
Facebook users can see offers that do not apply to them
One of the benefits of Facebook Ads was that businesses could target different groups of people with unique offers. This allowed low businesses to test different offers or to offer discounts to certain segments of the population.
An example of this would be a special offer for your past customers or your email list via a Facebook Ad. Or a business could have an offer just for people who live in specific states.
As of today, users will be able to see all of these ads. Businesses will have to decide going forward if they are okay with these special offers.
Your competitors can see ALL of your Facebook Ads
Sure, before this update your competitors may have seen a couple of your Facebook Ads because they are part of the interest you are targeting. But now they can see EVERY ad!
They can even view the Facebook Ads that only target your custom audiences such as your past customer or email lists.
What does this mean? It means that you used to be able to advertise your private lists on Facebook without your competitors seeing what you are doing. Now they can.
Unfortunately, it takes a matter of minutes to create similar Facebook Ads that are Link Previews, Lead Generation, and or offers.
Our best performing ads and offers used to work for months at a time. My guess is that with all the Facebook Ads being visible to competitors that the lifespan of your best ads will be shorter.
Facebook Video Ads become even more important
It takes a lot longer to “borrow” or copy good video content. Having a unique story that sets your business apart from the others will be even more important. Brands that utilize video the best on Facebook will have a huge advantage.
You can see ALL of your competitor Facebook Ads
This works both ways. Not only can you see all of their ads, but you can also click on their ads and see what each landing page looks like.
This will allow you to see your competitors entire online sales funnel in one place. Facebook is just handing your competitor’s entire online strategy all in one feed.
You can now go to your competitors Facebook page and click on the Info and Ads link. Look at your competitor’s ads and try to figure out who they are targeting with the ad. Is it an ad that is trying to raise awareness with a new prospect? Is it an ad for one of their past customers or a recent website visitor?
Yes, you used to be able to go to your competitor’s website and try to get retargeted with their Facebook Ads. You could also sign up for your competitor’s email newsletter. But Facebook just made it a lot easier to see EVERY ad and the landing pages associated with it in one feed.
The Facebook Competitive Advantage is in Your Data
In my blog post, The Power of Custom Audiences, I show how we get over 10x better conversion rates from our custom audiences. Facebook custom audiences are the unique ability a business has to target their email lists, past customers, and website visitors.
Those with the biggest, most engaged customers will win. Those who pixel and cookie the most website visitors for retargeting will win. Creative and offers will be easy to duplicate and with access to the same interest-based targeting, competitors will be able to get similar ads out to the same interest-based audiences.
Your custom audiences are unique to your business and are protected from your competitors. Custom Audiences in addition to offering a better product, service, and a unique story will be the key to winning in the future.
Big Brands are Going to be More Selective with Their Facebook Ad Promotions
I think this is a huge win for the smaller businesses and agencies.
Big brands invest huge amounts of money for their digital creative and strategy. They have integrated most of their online strategy into their Facebook Advertising.
Going forward, they may decide to leave more of their marketing off of Facebook because they do not want their competitors to have access to their entire strategy and creative in one easy to scroll feed.
The small business can now go look at the creative and strategy that is being deployed by the big brands and creatively “borrow” what can apply to their business. My guess is that the bad actors out there, who this update is supposed to stop, will be more aggressive in their “borrowing”.
What Is Not Available in the Facebook Info and Ad Feed
Comments, Likes, & Shares for the ads are not displayed
Scrolling through, you can get an idea of how many variations of images, copy, types of ads a business is using. For a page that tests tons of images and copy, the feed will be filled with lots of variations of the same ads. A lot of big brands I’ve looked through have lots of variations of the product retargeting ads.
Facebook is not showing the engagement on all of these ads. So, as you scroll through the Facebook Ad and Info feed there is no indication which of the ads are working.
Budgets and target audience are not displayed
Having the appropriate budget for the size of each target audience is an important factor to being successful with Facebook Ads. Looking at the Facebook Ads & Info Feed, you’ll probably be able to figure out the targeting if the advertiser is making the ads relevant to the target audience. But there will be no way to figure out budget.
Ad Placement is not displayed
Facebook does not indicate if the ad is just being displayed in the Facebook news feed or if it is also showing up on Instagram, Instagram Stories, Audience Network, Facebook right rail, Instant Articles or Messenger.
Action Items Right Now for Facebook Advertisers
With this new Facebook update, here are two things Facebook Advertisers should do immediately:
Turn off any Facebook Ads that you do not want your competitors viewing:
You should turn off any ad that you are not ok with your competitors seeing. If you have a huge past customer database and you like to market to them without your competitors seeing the offers and messaging, then you’ll want to go back to just advertising to them via email.
Turn off any Facebook Ads that you do not want ALL your customers or prospects seeing:
Do you have special offers or discounts that you offer to your website visitors or past customers to get them to take action immediately? Do you want everyone to this offer? How about visitors who paid full price or did not get the special addon? Then you may want to take those Facebook Ads down.
Overall Thoughts On Facebook Giving Access To Every Ad a Page is Running
I do feel that this is a MAJOR change that will impact the Facebook Advertising landscape.
Will the net change be good or bad? I think there are winner and losers.
I think for those who have the strongest data this makes that data even stronger. I think for those who have a good video team or the money to pay for the video, that this makes video more valuable because video content is tougher to duplicate.
I don’t think it will be consumers thumbing through the info and ads feed — it will be competitors, agencies, and freelancers.
Facebook Ad Teams with great copywriters will only win if they continue to put out lots of fresh content. The velocity at which great copy will be borrowed will be pretty high. Just look at how much viral video content is stolen from the original content owners and used on pages.
Long term, I believe this sets up businesses with the best products, service, and stories to win if they get their customers telling their story for them. This can’t be easily duplicated.
This will cause businesses and agencies to think multiple times about every ad they test. The minute it goes live, it will be available in this feed for all to see.
Special offers based on location or recent visits to the site without a purchase will go away. This was a very effective way to get people to take action and had a big ROAS.
I totally get this level of transparency for political ads and media sites. We should be able to see the messages politicians are sending to every separate group that they are trying to appeal to. This prevents them from saying one thing to one group and the opposite to the other.
I’m not 100% sold that we need a one-stop feed for competitors to see your entire marketing strategy. But, while it is here, I will continue to figure out how to help my clients continue to be in the winner’s category.
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