Late last year, IPG Mediabrands’ Magna predicted that the global market for digital advertising would surpass $200bn and eclipse television ad spend.
But the still-growing digital ad pie is no longer a free-for-all. Thanks to concerns over brand safety, relevance, fraud and viewability, advertisers are becoming more careful about how and where they advertise and even the biggest ad platforms are taking note.
For instance, in response to an advertiser boycott over ads being displayed on offensive YouTube videos, Google said it would hire more employees to moderate content and offer advertisers new tools to better control where their ads show up.
And Google isn’t alone in trying to clean up its act.
The world’s largest social network, Facebook, has announced that it is removing the ability for advertisers to pay to boost certain kinds of posts made on their Facebook Pages. Facebook’s explanation for the change:
In order to ensure businesses get the most value from their Facebook ads, we are removing the ability to boost some post types that are rarely used and are not tied to advertiser objectives. This change will allow us to improve and expand our most effective ad products, and help advertisers identify solutions to help them reach their goals.
The 17 post types that will no longer be available to boost as of September 15 include shares of polls, place recommendations, changes of Profile pictures and videos or images uploaded through the Facebook camera.
Facebook says that few advertisers boosted these types of posts, so removing the ability for brands to post them was probably not a difficult decision financially. That said, the fact that Facebook is telling advertisers that it won’t even accept their money to boost these posts is a move worth noting, as it signals a growing emphasis on making sure that advertisers realize an ROI on their ad spend.
Indeed, in the company’s most recent earnings call, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg boldly stated “our goal is to be the best dollar” any advertiser spends. To achieve that goal, Facebook obviously needs to ensure that every dollar an advertiser spends on its platform produces a return well in excess of that dollar.
Beyond vanity metrics
That’s important, because while many advertisers have for years invested in social believing that social engagement would ultimately lead to increased revenue, more and more of them are now demanding to see the proof.
For companies advertising on Facebook, that means that while having tons of Likes on a business Page or lots of comments on a post is great, if engagement doesn’t translate into sales or other key metrics that drive their businesses, these are little more than vanity metrics of questionable value.
While post boosting falls under Facebook’s Page Post Engagement offering, and is pitched to advertisers as a way to “get more people to like, share and comment on the posts you create”, Facebook is increasingly focused on making sure that the engagement produces more than just virtual goodwill.
To that end, Facebook gives advertisers who boost their posts the ability to add a call-to-action button on the post. Available calls-to-action include Learn More, Contact Us, Sign Up, Download and Shop Now, and advertisers have the ability to link their call-to-action buttons to a page on their website.
Will other platforms follow suit?
There’s clearly a flight to quality taking place in the digital advertising world and with the two biggest players moving to increase the ability of their offerings to drive tangible returns, it’s likely that other platforms will face pressure from advertisers to do the same.