Marketers who love Facebook ads have a lot in common with politicians who are spending millions on them for this presidential election cycle. And as pivotal as they were to President Donald Trump’s win in 2016, they’re often just as important to brand survival. So the attitude of the next administration toward Facebook’s data practices will matter a great deal to marketers.
Those believing the state laws emerging regarding consumers’ data privacy need to realize Facebook ads are being served to users who’ve opted in to use the platform. So, as much movement as there is in data privacy overall, the Facebook ads question remains.
Beginning with Facebook’s treatment of the candidates, its move last month to not regulate the factual nature of the political ads kept dollars flowing in from politicians. This happened, even after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently answered questions from Congress about “fake news” and users’ data privacy, in light of the Cambridge Analytica controversy. Zuckerberg also doesn’t want to see his company broken up, which Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s presented a plan to do. Other Democratic candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar, also say they’d like to break up tech monopolies if they win.
So a Democratic candidate winning could mean change for marketers, if Facebook is split up.
In her March 2019 post on Medium, Warren says breaking up tech monopolies will increase competition in the sector. She writes that that will be good for everyone, including marketers:
“Here’s what will change: Small businesses would have a fair shot to sell their products on Amazon without the fear of Amazon pushing them out of business. Google couldn’t smother competitors by demoting their products on Google Search. Facebook would face real pressure from Instagram and WhatsApp to improve the user experience and protect our privacy. Tech entrepreneurs would have a fighting chance to compete against the tech giants.”
Considering Instagram and WhatsApp are Facebook subsidiaries that grew post-acquisition, this might be a daunting task. Both entities are highly intertwined with Facebook, including their user data.
For what may be the status quo for marketers using Facebook ads, we can look to Trump.
The Trump administration’s been generally favorable toward Facebook’s current business practices. Simultaneously, the Trump re-election campaign spent $20 million on “more than 218,000 different Facebook ads” in 2019, according to an analysis the Guardian published on Jan. 29, 2020. (That “different” aspect greatly helps politicians and marketers to target Facebook users to granular levels — dog lovers, residents of specific regions, etc.)
Democratic presidential candidates, including like Warren and Mike Bloomberg — who's spent “$47 million on Facebook and Google ads since entering the race in late November,” according to the Feb. 4 Wall Street Journal article “After Iowa Muddle, Bloomberg to Double Ad Spending” — are also employing Facebook ads.
In other words, everyone uses Facebook ads and enjoys the granular targeting capabilities due to the opted-in user data.
What do you think, marketers? Will a new president make changes? How will that impact you?
Please respond in the comments section below.