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Is Facebook Considering Digital Ads with Limited Targeting and Tracking?

As internet users’ privacy expectations change, the web’s largest digital ads providers have had to adapt. Perhaps no advertising platform has been hit harder by users’ desire for more privacy than Facebook. According to Search Engine Land, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, predicted that it will lose $12.8 billion in revenue thanks to privacy updates rolled out in Apple’s iOS 14 update. “Unprecedented levels of competition,” in Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s words, from new platforms like TikTok don’t help.

And while companies like Google have introduced new ways of grouping and targeting consumers, Facebook has been slower to respond. Now, the company is rumoured to be preparing to launch on a new brand awareness product that would work within Apple’s privacy restrictions. According to Search Engine Land, ‘Basic Ads’ will offer no targeting and return only the simplest reporting metrics, like engagement and video views.

“More than 90% of all the online marketers I know are focused on direct response where efforts can be directly tracked… with this basic ads platform, it appears that tracking will be rather difficult,” said Curt Maly of Black Box Social Media, who is reportedly ‘aware of Meta’s plans,’ per Search Engine Land. “Branding and awareness are used by larger companies with deeper pockets, most small businesses can’t compete with a brand who spends money ‘branding,’ small business owners need/want to drive results now.”

So, what does that mean for Facebook’s digital ads business? According to Maly, limited tracking and targeting could push advertisers to alternate platforms.

“If these three major goal lines [targeting, conversion objectives, and tracking results] are moved, I think we will be seeing a lot more people flock to Google/YouTube ads, TikTok ads and Apple’s new ad platform.”

While Basic Ads remain a rumour, their introduction could suggest a shift in Facebook’s advertising philosophy, one that embraces digital ads for big businesses while pushing SMBs ad budgets to competitors.


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