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Is The Facebook Ads Boycott The Kiss of Death for SMMA's?

In todays climate there is no shortage of topics that require deep, well researched discussions.

As we attempt make the most out of these days that eerily resemble an episode of Black Mirror, the political landscape is resting at a hellish boiling point & our social issues are skewing lines that our health issues haven’t been able to breach yet.

One thing sparking mass confusion as well as concern is the Facebook Ads Boycott.

The confusion is where we see massive budgets being pulled, yet the stock prices begin to climb which gives people mixed emotions about what is happening beyond the headlines.

What’s concerning is how heavily it’s effecting one of the few industries that’s been able to thrive during the pandemic, Digital Advertising for E-commerce.

Today, lets go beyond the headlines and dissect what this boycott means for the everyday citizen as well as the modern SMMA (Social Media Marketing Agency).

Before we take the deep dive, allow me to splash your metaphorically parched feet with some foundational facts.

The Facebook ads boycott is a movement sparked by civil rights groups like Color of Change to call on companies that contribute large budgets to the Facebook ads marketplace in response to Facebooks notorious lack of regulations and mishandling of hate speech/groups & misinformation.

Companies around the world with millions in Digital Advertising budgets have answered by pulling the plug on their Facebook ads, some for the month, some for the year and some indefinitely.

The revolt formed swiftly and is dubbed with the hashtag #StopHateForProfit, which has helped spread awareness of the boycott and is encouraging companies, one by one to contribute to this pursuit of social justice.

Facebook is no stranger to this kind of scrutiny as they’ve been sidestepping their responsibility to regulate false data on the site since it’s involvement *or lack there of* with the 2016 elections, which is where this animosity towards the company started brewing.

(See pieces like, The Great Hack for some more information on this controversy)

Today, we are here to discuss THIS movement, which surfaced after a wave of white supremacy in the form of groups, posts & ads, flooded the platform in response to George Floyd’s untimely death & the resurgence of the #BLACKLIVESMATTER Movement.

The abundance of manipulative political content that is being promoted through Facebook ads and has resided next to ads of our participating advertisers for years, are known to promote hate speech that these companies don’t want anything to do with.

Now the Social Media platform’s CEO is under fire, again, for his lack of concern for regulating this kind of society splitting content & evasive language when under questioning by federal lawmakers to avoid accountability for the content of others being published on his site.

Lower those eyebrows, ok? We’re just getting started.

These hashtags don’t come up with themselves, so let’s take a look at who’s involved and leading the charge.

Companies like The North Face & Patagonia were among the first major companies join the cause and at the time of writing, top 100 companies like Verizon, Disney & Unilever that have also spoken out to be in support of #BLACKLIVESMATTER are in support of this boycott and the list is growing.

Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola, REI, you name it they’ve either pulled their ads or are planning on doing so.

These iconic Brands have flooded headlines across the planet, stating their cause to the media, giving this topic coverage from business leaders & analysts of all backgrounds.

But, hold your applause… First, understand that if Facebook’s Top 100 Marketing budgets all pulled their ads this would cost Facebook a mind numbing $7 Billion of Facebooks approximately $77 BILLION annual ads revenue (according to Bloomberg).

To begin understanding what we’re up against, Please let that sink in…

That’s just under 10% of Facebook annual earnings of running ads alone.

This valiant effort is causing a drought that to you and me is unfathomable but to superpowers in the tech space, it’s just a smidgen of dirt on their shoulder.

With money seemingly unlimited & not being of much concern, how is this really making a difference?

We already acknowledged that this is barely a financial detriment.

But, stock value is likely to drop with this negative press, right?

Well stocks haven’t really dropped,,. at all… they took a quick dip but are now recording their highest numbers yet.

Because Facebook is proving itself as a safe bet in business BUT the potential detriment this has on our way of life is what needs to incite change.

Right now, as our social justice warriors continue to hold their ground, the financially charged snowball is growing in size & strength and the world is watching to see if this is the moment they’ve all been waiting for.

Is this where the social & financial pressure will incentivize Facebook’s CEO to make simple yet much needed changes to its current ‘Fact Checking’ and ‘Hate Speech’ policies, ESPECIALLY in political ads that may or may not have played a part the social issues we are facing today?

As this movement continues to grow and companies like Disney continue to join the fight, the social pressure seems to be getting to our boy Mark.

After nearly 4 weeks of this boycott we’ve seen a bit of movement, not quite what the people are hoping for but a couple scoochies in the right direction is a good place to start.

At first Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that Facebook didn’t plan to make ANY changes as they “do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure," Carolyn Everson, Facebook Vice President of Global Business Group.

Seeing how much of an impact this has had on mainstream media seems to have hit Facebook in the realm of reality and now has it’s full attention.

There has been hundreds of accounts that were identified as fakes on behalf of politicians or racially charged groups and have been deleted in response to this movement.

Facebook has made attempts to be more transparent by opening up a heavily criticized Facebook employee meeting to the public and has taken the idea of reviewing policies & procedures to make the platform more safe but not limiting to its users speech.

This is great progress so far but this doesn’t mean the fight is over.

There are still fact checking of political ads and loop holes that need to change in order to fill the initial call to action #StopHateForProfit

At least now it seems that Facebook Inc. is taking this situation more seriously

Where does this leave the participants of this movement?

With less ads & exposure won’t the sales drop for the advertisers?

Most of these companies are advertising brand, not products… in this case cutting millions in ad spend for such a potent issue has given them more exposure than they’d be generating with the ads in the first place.

People share this hashtag, write blogs just like this and when you pair that up with #BLACKLIVESMATTER, the political climate and how Facebook played a role in getting us here, this is just gas on the flame and is plenty to keep the brands afloat.

Also, remember that there’s a pandemic going on & most companies are already taking a hit which has desensitized the impact of what additional losses they might be experiencing.

At the end of the day, they are building their good will bank account by standing up where other companies can’t afford to do so which speak volumes and only encourages brand loyalty.

So will all of this back & forth, lets get to the reason why you’re here.

What does this mean for SMMA’s?

When you begin to breakdown the effect of whats happening this is an incredibly pivotal time for the industry, let me explain.

If you don’t already know, Facebook Ads is a Marketplace that sells placements through a bidding system.

This means that if there are more bidders, the ad prices go up.

With major players dropping their ads one by one ad costs are dropping significantly if managed right.

Knowing that this is a fight more appropriately suited for the heavy hitters, the small & medium sized businesses that are in survival mode are now being offered a glimmer of hope.

Having access to Facebooks reach at a discount price is a HUGE opportunity to put their brands in front of more eyeballs, expand their fanbase & accelerate their brand.

If you’re an SMMA this would be a great way to pitch running ads to reclaim the money that has been left on the table due for whichever reason.

This is amazing if you sell & manage your services properly, not only to get clients but to ensure that businesses stay afloat during these make or break moments in history.

All of these silver linings almost never come without a price.

From the surface, the sentiment that the movement promotes seems to be on its way to achieving the intended goal but there are a few leaky holes lurking beneath the headlines.

With ad costs going down, political and socially detrimental advertisers are still here to take full advantage of the market shift as they’ve either maintained or boosted their ad budgets to reach MORE of the platforms users with the content this movement was designed to prevent.

With less advertisers competing for ad space, that means more political ads with more frequency taking their campaigns even further.

Will discrepancies like this blow up in the face of this movement?.. Only time will tell.

Given the social responsibility that comes with wielding the most influential social tool to ever exist, you would think there would be more of an urgency to suffocate propaganda.

After all, making systematic decisions because its ‘cool’ is what made Facebook, Facebook…

Last time I checked an engine to advance political agenda wasn’t cool but… I digress.

At the time of writing, the movement is just gaining steam and we are in the midst of change in epic proportions.

I implore you to stay up to date with this movement as it not only can change our way of life but also your ability to change the lives of business owners for the better through digital marketing.

As they say, “Time is the teller of all truths”.

How we handle this will either fill your good will bank account, your pipeline or expose your the snakes in the grass.

Which will it be for you?

If you’d like to discuss how this movement can effect your business in more detail, feel free to schedule a FREE audit with us..


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