Market Trends

Written by The Marketing Team July 23, 2018

Facebook ad transparency:
bad news for advertisers or opportunity in disguise?

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Facebook recently launched a controversial tool, allowing users greater visibility into advertising on the platform. Now, as well as being able to hide or report ads, Facebook users are able to see a list of all active ads from businesses within a dedicated info and ads section of the business page.

Facebook Ad Transparency DeliverooFacebook serving two masters

It’s clear Facebook wants to take a leading role in digital privacy and transparency, but the complication comes in the fact that they’re serving two masters – users and advertisers. Facebook knows that the advertising component of their platform is not going to work unless their user base is happy and engaged. Users need to be able to control their experience on the platform and know their data is secure. If they feel that, they’ll continue spending time on the platform and Facebook will stay a valuable place for advertisers.

What is the tool’s intended purpose?

Released on 28 June, the Facebook communication around this new tool noted:Giving people more information about any organization and the ads it’s currently running will mean increased accountability for advertisers, helping to prevent abuse on Facebook. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has since noted that the ultimate goal of this new tool is to reduce bad ads.

Facebook created this tool for users. From the perspective of a business advertising on Facebook, this is either a very exciting tool, or one that is keeping you up at night. Whileyou are able to get a view of all of your competitors ads currently running, they can also see yours.

At first glance this might seem like very bad news. Surely any competitive advantage in the way you run your ads or set up your campaigns had vanished, right? Well that’s one perspective, but we don’t think it’s bad news at all, and here’s why:


The real world

With this announcement, advertising on Facebook is really just coming in line with the real world. Marketers throughout all of human history have been used to having their ads in the public domain. From posters, to billboards, to newspapers – in the time before the internet and social media it would have sounded like make-believe that you could run ads that wouldn’t be seen by your competitors! Now, instead of having to quickly screenshot that competitor’s ad you saw on Facebook or Instagram, you have free access.

And is transparency really such a bad thing after all? In our view, intelligent advertisers have no need to worry.

ad transparency examples

In a highly competitive market like food delivery, it can be interesting to see the difference
in advertising approach between competitors. Take, for example, the differences
between Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat France.

Make the most of Competitive Intelligence’85

So make the most of this new transparency. While the tool won’t show you how each of a competitor’s ads is performing, you now have the ability to get your copy and creative inspiration all in one place. Check out other businesses addressing the same audience you do – how do they approach their advertising? What formats are they using? What text are they using to drive their desired actions? Using this new tool, you’ll be able to find out:

  • How many ads your competitors are running
  • Which products they are promoting, and their key sales messages for each
  • What languages they are using, which can be interesting if you also compete internationally
  • What style of creatives they use
  • Which ad formats they most often choose
  • Whether they are running any seasonal campaigns
  • & more!

Sometimes sustaining great advertising performance can be hard! It’s easy when you’ve got a list of great concepts and ideas, but what about when they start to run dry? Use the Facebook Ad Transparency tool to jog your thinking again! When you’re trying to freshen things up, a great approach can be to check out what other people are doing. Aggregate all of the best ones in one place, and use it for inspiration at any moment.

…but stay unique!

An unintended consequence of this new feature could be an increase in sameness across ads on Facebook. From our perspective, that would be sad to see. The best ads are still the ones that come from outside the box, where marketers have taken the time to think creatively about how to convey a message and drive their desired action from users. The winner of this year’s Social & Influencer Lion at Cannes Lions is a great example of that!

Simply copying your competitors ads won’t be enough to see sustained success. Instead, use this new tool as an opportunity to be inspired and stay relevant, whilst continuing to focus on bringing unique and creative ideas to the fore.

At first glance Facebook ad transparency looks like a big negative for Facebook advertisers. But it’s not all doom and gloom! Use it to your advantage, let it it to push you into raising the bar in your Facebook advertising and take learnings from your competitors that you can combine with your brand’s uniqueness. Who knows – this new tool could actually be a blessing in disguise!


MMR_LandingPage_Summer-Sales (1)Our Ultimate Guide to Social Ads in Summer contains a lot of best practices around Facebook and Instagram advertising. Download the guide and learn about different ad format options, ways to target and build audiences & more!

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