Facebook outsmarts Adblock (or do they?) and revamps ad guidelines

September 2, 2016Social Media
kristel set pic

By Kristel Tamkivi – Native and Social Account Executive at King Content

The Adblock vs Facebook arms race has lasted for about two weeks now, and there’s still no definitive answer to who won.

Facebook knows users are irritated by annoying ads. Given that the network runs on revenue from ad placements, this presents Facebook with a double-edged-sword situation. But they also know a lot about what we do want to see, so they’ve created tools that will help us communicate our preferences about which ads we’re served on Facebook.

If you’ve been following the Adblock and Facebook war, you’ll know both claim their efforts are helping to give users more freedom of choice. Freedom to make the world a more connected place where we have the choice to share or not share what we see (Facebook), and freedom to choose what we see and what we don’t see (Adblock).

This is what your Facebook News Feed would look like with and without Adblock

kristel pic 1

To keep it short, Facebook is trying to solve the issue by making ads less discoverable within their source code, and bolstering their “ads for everyone” position by updating advertising guidelines for brands. However, Adblock has made it clear they are ready to go into battle, guns blazing, to forever remove all ads from users’ News Feeds. Facebook, in turn, will write another piece of code to hide the ads in the source code and render Adblock’s filters useless.

“This is a cat-and-mouse game; so their next circumvention might come at any time.”

Either way, by giving users extended control over what they see based on personal preference, Facebook has created a demand for better, more personalised and relevant ads on the platform.

kristel pic 2

 What does this mean for advertisers?

Previously, to combat ad blocking, advertisers paid off (some) ad blocking software providers, which eliminated the need to improve how advertising on social networks was approached. There will be no more of that, as both Adblock and Facebook are making moves that will only result in more restrictions from both sides.

So here’s what you as a forward-thinking advertiser will have to consider. Depending on how proficient of a marketer you are, this could be either a very easy or a very difficult change to make.

Think of the users that would actually benefit from your ad content.

Really think about who those people are that your content would be beneficial to. Or interesting. Or engaging. Whatever.

Start with really nailing your audience targeting. Think of your reached audiences and if they are engaging with what you’re serving. Then think of your target audiences – who are they? Consider their background, their interests and aspirations. People buy what they aspire to, so really think of aspirations that different groups of people may have.

Then create ads that speak to only them. Create variations of the same ad with different copy or creative if your audiences vary by generation, location or interest. Think of yourself and how you use Facebook – what makes you click through from an ad you see? What makes you unmute that auto-play video and watch the whole thing with the volume turned up?

Once you’ve gotten used to putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, there’s one more thing to consider.

The double whammy: Facebook’s total war on clickbait

Facebook is also taking action against clickbait in the News Feed. Facebook has communicated this as emphasising authenticity in communication on the network, referencing user feedback gleaned from years of surveying and monitoring their (our) behaviour. This relates to the clickbait in headlines and link titles that we see so often.

What type of headline does Facebook consider as clickbait? Those that “intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find the answer” is the crux of it.

Some examples Facebook has provided are: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”, and “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”.

While most users have learned to recognise these types of headlines as clickbait, the next one might be a hard pill to swallow for those that just can’t do without a bit of BuzzFeed: “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.” Now, personally, I’d love to click on this headline and see the priceless reaction of the deliveryman.

The clickbait update will be implemented in the coming weeks, and the repercussions for advertisers that ignore the guidelines could be quite severe. Facebook claims the system they have built to recognise clickbait is similar to how any email spam filter would work.

Any exaggeration or withholding information in a headline will classify your ad as clickbait, and will result in the ad being suppressed in the News Feed. Keep ignoring the guidelines and soon enough all content coming from your web domain and/or page will be suppressed in the News Feed and distribution of your content will decrease, until you stop using clickbait.

How not to be that spammy marketer

This is what Facebook says about how to drive reach and referrals without clickbait.

1. Share headlines that inform

If the headline you’ve written seems misleading, spammy or sensational to you – change it. This is one of those “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!” situations you should avoid like fire.

According to user feedback, headlines such as “You’ll Never Believe Who Tripped and Fell on the Red Carpet…” withhold information and require them to click through to get the answer.

2. Choose headlines that set appropriate expectations

Making statements in headlines like “This Pen Never Ever Runs Out of Ink!” is obviously outlandish and should not be something you want to capture your audience with. There will be no more audience left if you keep at it. I agree with Facebook here, and strongly recommend that humankind stop this kind of trickery once and for all.

3. Don’t even share clickbait content on your page. Period.

Sharing bait-y articles on your page will just result in your page being penalised for it. Don’t be silly. We’re way past this game in the social marketing industry. Nobody in the world will ever feel like they’ve missed out because they weren’t served with THIS:

kristel pic 3

Not sure how to give prospects and customers content they care about? Talk to King Content’s strategy team about building your targets’ FAQs and frustrations into meaningful content.