Behind the Digital Curtain: Facebook and Twitter Increase Transparency

Transparency is always good for business. Just ask Facebook and Twitter. Amidst the furor over Facebook allowing shadowy advertising accounts and “dark posts” administered by foreign countries – with the intention of influencing U.S. and other national elections – Facebook and Twitter are pulling back the curtain in the name of transparency.

New Tools Promise More Accountability, Give Marketers Competitive Data.

As we’ve discussed in a previous blog on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018, the digital giants are reacting to getting caught with their pants down. They’ve taken quite a beating and now they’re reacting by providing new transparency tools aimed at delivering new levels of accountability. In brief, these tools were designed to protect consumers from “fake news,” while also protecting sensitive consumer data. Digital media platforms like Facebook and Twitter also see this as a way to rebuild their reputations.

There are also two key, unintentional benefits afforded to smart marketers who can leverage these tools for the following purposes:
1) Easily check out what their competitors are doing.
2) See a brand’s spend on Facebook, but only if you go post by post. Facebook will release an API later this summer, enabling marketers and others to aggregate information. (Note: There’s a good chance that the brand spend many change due to the sensitivity of this information for advertisers.)

“…a really big shift at Facebook and how we think about responsibility as a company”

-- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

Facebook Tools

Every Facebook Page will now carry a new button called “Info and Ads.” This section will display the ads the Page is currently running across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Facebook’s partner network. Facebook also will have a button to report each ad and publicly share more information about Pages. Pages will display changes to their names along with the date they were created. Facebook said it plans to add even more information in the coming weeks and, in the face of the turmoil over election ads, will offer access to archived election data going back seven years from this time forward.

“Twitter is a platform that enables global conversation, and we believe that transparency is a core part of who we are.”

-- Twitter Transparency Center

Twitter Tools

Now anyone will be able to view ads on Twitter by searching for a specific handle. That search will bring up the ad creative for all campaigns that handle has run in the last seven days. For political ads run in the U.S., users will be able to see billing information, ad spending, impression data and demographic targeting data.

Facebook Tools vs. Twitter Tools

Interestingly enough (hmmmmm), Twitter’s transparency tools announcement came within minutes of Facebook’s! Needless to say, while they are largely on the same page, there are some initial differences between the two digital giants, as indicated below:

  • Facebook requires people to sign into a Facebook account to access the tool.
  • Twitter doesn’t require users to have a Twitter account.
  • Facebook shows only advertisements that are currently running across its properties, unless they’re related to politics.  In that case, they are archived for the next seven years.
  • Twitter stores advertising data for seven days.
  • Twitter shows all nonpolitical ads from the past seven days. Twitter’s Ad Transparency Center will include only U.S. political campaign ads, not international ones, at least for now.

Stay Ahead of Your Competitors

You can get simple explanations to fairly complex and rapid changing digital media platform changes by visiting our blog each week or our knowledge center for the latest marketing ebooks. Join thousands of other smart marketers who want to stay ahead of the curve each week.

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