When Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, was called to testify to Congress following the Cambridge Analytica data breach, some brands were asking, “Should I still be advertising on Facebook?”Rational Agency’s response has been, “Yes.”
Last month, Facebook came under scrutiny when it was revealed that the data of 87 million (or more?) Facebook users was improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. Facebook noted the data breach way back in 2014 and advised the consultancy to reconcile the problem and delete the users’ data. Yet there was no follow up to ensure action was taken. Further, Cambridge Analytica was shown to have subsequently used this data to influence user perception and behavior during the 2016 US Presidential election.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been in the hot seat, but in spite of current investigations, the platform remains the largest global social media channel. Facebook’s ongoing ability to deliver targeted marketing messages at efficient rates allows brands to run sophisticated social campaigns for relatively efficient media costs. The trade-offs between user personalization, audience insights, and pinpoint targeting for brands are all up for discussion as we wrestle with the potential negative outcomes of this powerful technology.
Facebook makes a practice of taking responsibility for their actions, and generally demonstrates a willingness to take necessary steps to ensure users are protected. In the first of many steps in response to the data breach, Facebook announced the removal of partner categories that targeted users based on purchase habits by way of third party data sources. (Use of partner categories will be deprecated over the next three months with the final removal of audiences occurring on September 30, 2018.)
In his testimony to Congress, Zuckerberg indicated that additional precautions will be taken to avoid data privacy violations in the future. We’ll anxiously await ongoing and further efforts to ensure user privacy is honored with the highest level of scrutiny and security.
Other platforms such as Twitter and Snap Chat have also been taking proactive steps to align with GDPR guidelines. We anticipate the overall industry will see further (positive) changes and refinements as government, user, and brand scrutiny all become forces the social platforms have to reckon with.
Rational encourages all brands to consult with their media agency to ensure they are following best practices and adhering to data governance guidelines. While we will continue to watch and monitor all media channels used for our brands, Facebook continues to be a valuable platform for reaching key audiences.
Contributors: Amanda Holberg, Harmony Crawford, Mendy Sass, Michael Harding