Facebook Problems: Bigger Than Just Ad Fraud

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This Week
July 28, 2020
Fake Ads Aren't Facebook's Only Woe
BAD ADS Act Bullies Section 230
What Pubs and Brands Need to Know About CCPA
Podcasts Hit Their Stride
Facebook Problems: Real Brands, Fake Ads

Facebook is ankle-deep in troubles as of late. For one, I’m sure we’ll all be checking into the live stream of the big tech antitrust hearings taking place tomorrow to hear Zuck tell Congress how much America needs his company to be really fit in order to stave off undue Chines social media influences. Senior Editor, Lynne d Johnson, already has her dragon popcorn at the ready.

But these are not the Facebook issues we’re referring to.

We’re not even talking about the social media giant’s cage match vs Australia. Which already has the company scrambling to make deals with publishers ahead of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission finalizing regs that would force them to lay out the cash.

Nor are we talking about major brands like Coca-Cola and the NorthFace ditching Facebook in the fight against hate speech on the networks platform.

No dear Monster, we’re talking about something altogether different. Problem #4 this month for the big F would be scam ads portraying real products and services leading to damaged brand reputations and consumer mistrust.

Over 70 ads from consumer and apparel brands, ranging from Patagonia to JP, have been affected by fraudulent ads appearing on Facebook and Instagram, according to a new report from the Transnational Alliance to Combat Trade.

These brands aren't taking this sitting down either. They’re taking action and applying pressure to Facebook to take greater control over which ads make it through its pipes. Of note, some of the brands hardest hit by scam ads are also pausing spend on Facebook for #StopHateForProfit. The fact that it’s so easy to deploy fake ads on Facebook would make any brand take pause.

There's a big question here: If publishers can find solutions to fight scummy ads, why can't Facebook? 

Why This Matters

If you pay careful attention to how we outlined all of Facebook’s current conundrums in this one post, you might have caught on that the focus isn’t only Facebook's fake ads' mess. 

Facebook is one cocky son of a B, as evidenced by how Zuck plans to deal with Congress. Even his initial response to the ACCC sounded as if the company never intended to pay any publisher for news content, citing that it has minimal revenue impact.

Further, a meeting with Civil Rights leaders about how Facebook approaches content didn’t end very well for the leaders. Basically Facebook hasn't agreed to take a stance against hate speech (or even misinformation for that matter). This issue with scam ads and how their treating advertisers reeks of a similar disposition.

Will FB be forced to change its ways? We’ve already seen some headway with talks about banning political advertising on the site. And Facebook already has tools for authorizing political ads but it doesn’t seem like it's enough. Likewise, there are tools for companies to report fraudulent content, but according to Cat Zakrzewski, a technology policy reporter for The Washington Post, brands say that isn’t enough. In recent days, the company did take down false COVID info shared by Trump.

But when pressure is coming at you from all angles, eventually something has to give.

BAD Ads Act Bullies 230
Woo, hoo, it’s finally here—legislation that could remove immunity protections under Section 230 related to behavioral advertising! Oh, wait, big sorry, that probably sounded like we had good news to share. It was more sarcasm, because, well, we expected it.

The bill, “Behavioral Advertising Decisions Are Downgrading Services (Bad Ads) Act,” introduced by Republican Senator Josh Hawley, would clamp down on invasive data gathering by the duopoly used for behavioral targeting (and any other big tech company with either 30 million users in the U.S. or 300 million worldwide and $1.5 billion in global revenue).

Just in case you forgot, Section 230 protects online businesses from legal action over user-generated content. If this bill passes, it could remove 230’s immunity for a 30-day period following each violation.
Why This Matters
Without 230 to protect them, companies like Facebook and Google would even be liable for those very same scammy ads we talked about earlier. So even if Facebook and Google don’t put the necessary tools in place to crack down on fraudulent advertising, a bill like BAD ADS could do more than just twist their mammoth-sized tech arms.

Not surprisingly, Hawley’s isn’t the only bill with its finger on the trigger of a loaded gun pointed at 230, ready to strip digital media properties of these very necessary protections. Even for the walled gardens, 230 still seems like an alright measure—it’s just that those companies should be making stronger efforts to protect users from loathsome content and nefarious ads.

As we’ve opined once before: TL; DR Leave 230 alone. You got other fish to fry.
CCPA: What Publishers and Advertisers Need to Know
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has been top of mind for the past two years since it was enacted in June of 2018. It went into effect on January 1, 2020, and legal enforcement of the Act began on July 1, 2020. The CCPA introduces new data privacy rights for California residents – forcing companies that conduct business in the state of California to implement structural changes to their privacy programs.

There is a lot going on around the world these days, including news surrounding the CCPA. For example, Facebook recently launched a new Limited Data Use (LDU) Feature to support companies with CCPA compliance and last month, IAB Tech Lab released its technical data deletion spec to help publishers signal opt-out requests downstream to third-party vendors. Additionally, the industry is already looking ahead to CCPA 2.0 (or CPRA) which is on the ballot for November 2020.
Why This Matters
One CCPA requirement is very clear: if a business has a direct relationship with consumers and sells their personal information to third-party companies, it should provide a notice at the time of collection and include a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link or button on its website or in its CMP that allows California users to opt-out of that sale.

Another requirement is to allow consumers to send in requests to access and delete personal information, as well as the right to opt-out of the sale of personal information. This would apply to content subscribers, mobile or OTT app users, or just a regular website visitor. Publishers and advertisers now need a scalable and efficient way to process and respond to consumer rights requests and must maintain detailed, ongoing records for CCPA compliance.

For publishers unsure of next steps, the IAB created the IAB CCPA Compliance Framework last year to help meet the CCPA “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” requirement. This framework creates a unified approach and contractual relationship between digital properties and the downstream framework participants to enforce limitations on the use of data and mechanisms for accountability. Last month, the IAB Tech Lab released its technical data deletion spec which allows publishers to propagate data deletion requests to their ad tech partners.

Implementing the framework and signing the limited-service provider agreement are the simplest ways for publishers to pass these requests to downstream partners under a unified framework that governs how those signals should be treated.

If you have not adjusted your privacy program to comply with CCPA requirements, be sure to get started to avoid penalties and fines.
Podcast Payday

When journalists write about the streamers doing well amid the pandemic, we expect them to be talking about Netflix, Hulu and of course, Roku. But why isn't anybody talking about audio?

That's where the recent IAB US Podcast Advertising Revenue Study comes in.

Although commuter podcast listens went down in recent months, as people were working from home they turned their listening ears to a lot more lifestyle and entertainment content. Health and wellness and comedy topped content category lists, as well as content about COVID.

For advertisers, podcasts are becoming a highly-engaging medium. According to eMarketer, 30% of listeners purchase something after hearing a sponsored ad on a podcast.

Overall, IAB expects the market to grow by 14.7% YoY, projecting it'll reach $1B by the end of March '21.

Why This Matters
Spotify, iHeart and Sirius have all made heavy bets in the space recently.

Spotify launched video podcasts on the heels of a colossal deal with podcaster extraordinaire Joe Rogan. iHeart Media is steadily building out original content offerings for its comedy podcast partnership with Will Ferrell. And SiriusXM acquired Stitcher podcasting company for $325 million in recent weeks.

If the IAB report's numbers hold up, looks like these guys just might turn their investments into paydirt. We've got our money on Spotify becoming the Netflix of audio.

But there's a major lesson in here for pubs too. It's time to get your podcast monetization strategy in play. For those of you who still don't, we're looking askance at you right now. 👀
Sweet Tweet

Should be good theater this week as 4 of the world's most powerful men pretend they give a shit about what congress thinks.

Worth a Listen
In. The. Weeds. with Paul Bannister
Paul Bannister, Chief Strategy Officer, CafeMedia walks the hosts through WTF the W3C is and why publishers need to start caring, quickly. They get deep into how publishers need to get involved, the risks when ad tech companies claim to speak for publishers, and whether anything will even get done.
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