SO­CIAL UNI­VERSE

What ad trans­parency on so­cial me­dia means for brands.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - BY SONAL KHETARPAL Il­lus­tra­tions By RAJ VERMA @son­alkhetarpal7

FOR A BRAND, the con­text in which its ad is placed is a make or break fac­tor. So, when The Guardian, Eti­had Air­ways, Mar­riott and Ver­i­zon, re­alised that their ads on YouTube were placed next to videos con­tain­ing ex­trem­ist con­tent and hate speeches, they pulled out of the medium. Lack of trans­parency has long been a mat­ter of con­cern on so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

In the past, some of these plat­forms had launched op­tions that al­lowed users to ‘stop see­ing an ad’, and asked them to state their rea­son for do­ing so. The big­ger so­cial me­dia play­ers are now go­ing a step fur­ther and in­tro­duc­ing trans­parency mea­sures. Twit­ter re­cently launched an Ad­ver­tis­ing Trans­parency Cen­ter for its US au­di­ence. This will en­able users to know spe­cific de­tails about any ad they see on Twit­ter, in­clud­ing how long the ad has been run­ning, the spe­cific au­di­ence it is tar­geted at and, more im­por­tantly, the or­gan­i­sa­tion run­ning the ad. This will be es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial for non­prod­uct ads such as those about bet­ting, gam­bling and po­lit­i­cal ads, wherein the ad­ver­tiser’s name is in­con­spic­u­ous. Face­book’s new ad trans­parency fea­ture will al­low a user to see the list of all ads run by a par­tic­u­lar ad­ver­tiser, by click­ing on the ‘ View Ad’ icon on the ad­vert. This fea­ture is cur­rently be­ing tested in Canada. Ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion like the money spent on ads, the num­ber of im­pres­sions and the de­mo­graph­ics of the tar­get au­di­ence can also be viewed.

With such ex­plicit de­tails be­ing avail­able to users, mar­keters are jit­tery. So­cial me­dia ex­perts be­lieve that while trans­parency is good for the en­tire in­dus­try, advertisers may be scep­ti­cal ini­tially. R.P. Singh, Re­gional Head of Me­dia at ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing agency VML, says that in the short run, such ini­tia­tives will not help brands as much as it will give con­sumers more con­trol on the kind of ads they want to see. On the other hand, so­cial me­dia plat­forms as well as advertisers will have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of user pref­er­ences. This means dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agen­cies, too, will have to keep a close watch on the feed­back gen­er­ated and fine-tune the com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

In­sta­gram has rolled out a fea­ture that makes dis­tin­guish­ing spon­sored and paid posts eas­ier. It makes it clear when a celebrity or in­flu­encer a user fol­lows has been paid to pro­mote con­tent on his/ her page. Brands have been in­creas­ingly re­sort­ing to in­flu­encer- driven mar­ket­ing, and this move could throw a span­ner in the works. “Any in­flu­encer/ na­tive en­gage­ment should ide­ally be un­der the purview of the new poli­cies, but be­ing a more sub­tle form of en­dorse­ment, iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of these would be chal­leng­ing for plat­forms,” says Rubeena Singh, CEO, iProspect In­dia.

While it may seem that users stand to ben­e­fit most from these trans­parency mea­sures, the in­sights gen­er­ated in the process will prove to be of great value to advertisers, too.

EX­PERTS BE­LIEVE THAT WHILE TRANS­PARENCY IS GOOD FOR THE EN­TIRE IN­DUS­TRY, ADVERTISERS MAY BE SCEP­TI­CAL INI­TIALLY

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