FB bars ads from ob­jec­tion­able videos

The Phnom Penh Post - - MARKETS BUSINESS - Sapna Ma­hesh­wari

FACE­BOOK’S huge au­di­ence has long been cat­nip to ad­ver­tis­ers. But the com­pany’s vast ecosys­tem has come un­der scru­tiny this year from ma­jor brands, which are in­creas­ingly sen­si­tive to the pos­si­bil­ity of in­ad­ver­tently show­ing up next to ob­jec­tion­able con­tent.

In re­sponse to those con­cerns, Face­book re­leased a new set of rules on Wed­nes­day out­lin­ing the types of videos and ar­ti­cles it will bar from run­ning ads. It also said it would be­gin dis­clos­ing new in­for­ma­tion to ad­ver­tis­ers about where their mes­sages ap­pear on the plat­form and on ex­ter­nal apps and sites it is part­ners with.

The rules, which will be en­forced by a mix of au­toma­tion and hu­man re­view, re­strict ads from con­tent that de­picts, among other top­ics, real-world tragedies, “de­bat­able so­cial is­sues”, mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of chil­dren’s show char­ac­ters, vi­o­lence, nu­dity, gore, drug use and deroga­tory lan­guage. Face­book is ex­tend­ing the guide­lines im­me­di­ately to videos – which the com­pany hopes will be­come a lu­cra­tive part of its busi­ness – and, in the com­ing months, to ar­ti­cles.

Face­book said users who re­peat­edly vi­o­late its con­tent guide­lines, share sen­sa­tional click­bait or post fake news may lose the abil­ity to run ads.

“There have been con­cerns that mar­keters have had that are wide-rang­ing around dig­i­tal, and we want to do ev­ery­thing we can to en­sure that we are pro­vid­ing the safest en­vi­ron­ment for pub­lish­ers, ad­ver­tis­ers and for peo­ple that utilise the plat­form,” said Carolyn Ever­son, Face­book’s vice president of global mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions.

The new poli­cies, which mimic guide­lines es­tab­lished by Google’s YouTube, come as ad­ver­tis­ers de­mand ac­count­abil­ity from the in­ter­net gi­ants re­lated to where and how their mes­sages are de­liv­ered.

Face­book and Google were crit­i­cised dur­ing and af­ter the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion for al­low­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion to spread on their plat­forms. This year, YouTube had to ad­dress ad­ver­tis­ers’ con­cerns af­ter mes­sages from ma­jor brands were dis­cov­ered on videos that pro­moted ter­ror­ism and hate speech. The Wall Street Jour­nal found at least 50 acts of vi­o­lence on Face­book Live broad­casts.

The com­pa­nies are mov­ing quickly to ad­dress such is­sues, par­tic­u­larly as they seek to at- tract a greater por­tion of the money ear­marked for tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tis­ing to the video con­tent on their sites.

Face­book has en­abled hun­dreds of pub­lish­ers and in­di­vid­u­als to run ads dur­ing live video broad­casts in the past year, and the com­pany re­cently in­tro­duced a slate of new shows on a part of its site called “Watch”.

If the new guide­lines en­cour­age peo­ple to post more G-rated video con­tent, they are likely to bol­ster Face­book’s pitch to ad­ver­tis­ers.

“Face­book is this huge, huge, huge plat­form, and they haven’t re­ally been monetis­ing orig­i­nal con­tent in the same way as YouTube has,” said John Mont­gomery, ex­ec­u­tive vice president for brand safety at GroupM, a me­dia in­vest­ment group.

“What I think is dif­fer­ent for Face­book is that this is a much ear­lier stage for them that they’re go­ing into this, and the scale is dif­fer­ent in that there will be much, much less con­tent up­loaded than those stu­pe­fy­ing num­bers you hear about on YouTube.”

That should be an ad­van­tage in polic­ing con­tent, Mont­gomery said, es­pe­cially with the lim­its that Face­book is plac­ing on who can make money from cer­tain fea­tures. For ex­am­ple, the com­pany re­quired pages and pro­files that wanted to run ads on live videos this year to have more than 2,000 fol­low­ers. They could only show ads if they had at least 300 concurrent view­ers af­ter four min­utes.

Face­book also said it would be­gin show­ing ad­ver­tis­ers a pre­view of where their mes­sages may ap­pear be­fore cam­paigns start, giv­ing ad­ver­tis­ers a chance to block un­de­sir­able des­ti­na­tions.

When brands use Face­book to tar­get spe­cific peo­ple with ads, they are able to se­lect from a cor­nu­copia of traits, in­clud­ing age, gen­der and how many lines of credit a per­son has. Many ads then show up in the main Face­book and In­sta­gram feeds that peo­ple flick through, but they can also ap­pear in ar­ti­cles and videos within Face­book and on out­side apps and mo­bile web­sites that are part of Face­book’s “au­di­ence net­work”.

Brands have not been able to see be­fore­hand what kind of con­tent that might in­clude, and some have had to con­tend with ob­jec­tions from con­sumers af­ter be­ing placed on sites like Bre­it­bart News. Face­book said there were tens of thou­sands of apps and sites in its au­di­ence net­work and that more than 10,000 pub­lish­ers dis­played ar­ti­cles within its plat­form through a tool called In­stant Ar­ti­cles.

As YouTube has moved to limit ads from run­ning along­side un­savoury con­tent, many cre­ators on the plat­form have com­plained that their videos have been un­fairly pe­nalised by au­to­mated sys­tems. Face­book will prob­a­bly have to grap­ple with sim­i­lar com­plaints as it expands the num­ber of peo­ple who can make money from video ads on the site.

“We are not cen­sor­ing their con­tent; as long as it abides by our com­mu­nity stan­dards, the con­tent can run on the plat­form,” Ever­son said. “If a pub­lisher wants to mon­e­tise that con­tent, they have to ad­here to the mon­eti­sa­tion el­i­gi­bil­ity stan­dards.”

AN­DREW ESIOBO/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Mark Zucker­berg, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Face­book, dur­ing a town hall meet­ing with soft­ware de­vel­op­ers and en­trepreneurs in Lagos, Nige­ria, on Au­gust 31, 2016.

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