Is Facebook about to share your ad strategy with competitors?

Is Facebook about to share your ad strategy with competitors?

September 22,2017 By Josh Sturgeon

In a recent Facebook live session, Mark Zuckerberg addressed an ongoing investigation into the potential Russian involvement with the 2016 U.S. election.

Here's the full video recording here: 

Of particular interest to Facebook advertisers is his third point about raising the level of transparency for advertisers (3:30)

"So we're going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they're currently running to any audience on Facebook," 

Now to be sure, there's context here that suggests this change may only refer to political advertising. Zuck references the existing regulations around TV and other media political advertising prior to this statement, and the investigation itself is concerned with political interference from "foreign actors".

What does this mean for your Facebook Ads?

If this change ends up applying to all Facebook advertisers, this will have far reaching implications for how anyone runs campaigns on the platform. To date, it has been relatively easy to keep a winning campaign strategy private.

This is has been a key difference between Facebook and other forms of digital advertising like paid search or display, where tools like SpyFu and SEMrush offer a wealth of competitive insights.

Is this change fair to advertisers?

On one hand, we can all embrace the value of transparency and appreciate Facebook's desire to be above reproach with their advertising ecosystem. On the other hand, advertisers have spent millions in testing to find the right combination of messaging and audience targets.

If this change applies outside of the political sphere, all advertisers should prepare for a lot of copycat behavior.

One potential postiive outcome here is that this change will reward advertiseres who invest in original branded content, like video, which is harder for would-be competitors to rip off and make their own.

When is this all going to happen?

Zuckerberg says that these changes will roll out over the "coming months". We'll keep this post updated as we learn more.