Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has been through a rough time recently with the scandal involving the social media platform. The market cap for Facebook plummeted by $50 billion after the public discovered the truth about how their data was shared with third parties. Zuckerberg was forced to speak at a congressional hearing and asserted that he would make some much needed changes to Facebook to protect user privacy.
If Facebook gets an overhaul as a result of this scandal then people might be worried about its impact on users, especially businesses who rely on social media as part of their advertising tactics. Any changes to Facebook could also impact Instagram which is owned by the same company that might feel compelled to follow the same guidelines regarding personal data. Protecting user data is an important goal for Facebook but how will it affect businesses running ads on the social media platform?
Social media experts are predicting that data changes may not have as dramatic an effect on the way people use Facebook and Instagram as you might think. Advertising may not be hindered if Facebook allows businesses to continue promoting themselves through the platform and using the information they need to target ads. Many industry experts believe that advertising on Facebook and Instagram actually won’t change much, at least in the short term.
Protecting Data and Maintaining Business
When the news broke that Facebook allowed user data to be accessed by a company called cambridge analytica, it caused many people to question the integrity of the social media platform. Cambridge analytica is a political data firm that was hired by the Trump administration in order to gain access to user data on Facebook. The company was able to access private information on more than 50 million Facebook users and used tools to help influence their behavior during the 2016 election.
The data that was accessed by the company included users’ identities, location likes and friend networks which was used to map personality traits and then target audiences with digital ads. Users that took a personality survey and downloaded an app, consented to have their information taken and used by the third party although they were told it was for academic use only. Facebook allows researchers to gather data for academic purposes but Cambridge analytica violated the social media platform’s rules by allowing the data to be sold and transferred.
Although Cambridge analytica is mostly to blame for its violation of user privacy, Facebook has responded to the incident by removing the app that gathered data. The company also asked for this private data to be deleted so that it would not be used again in the future. However, it is likely that users will be more wary in the future of sharing their data online.
People using Facebook and Instagram may be more cautious about providing private information but it does not necessarily mean people will steer clear of these platforms. Instagram is less politically themed and more focused on design and visuals so it not likely that advertising on that platform will be affected in the near future. Ultimately when Facebook figures out how to resolve issues with data it will eventually transfer to Instagram.
Third Party Access to Data
One possible consequence of the Cambridge analytica scandal is that Facebook may scale back access to third party data. Legislators are beginning to understand that the platform leaves private data vulnerable and they may attempt to intervene. More government oversight may lead to attempts to break up the company which has control over a large portion of the social media world.
If there is any further backlash to Facebook following the scandal it could lead to more advertising potential on Amazon as another option for businesses. Amazon is currently struggling to keep up in the marketing world because it has a smaller number of advertisers and accounts can be more difficult to set up than Facebook. However, if Facebook becomes too problematic for users, Amazon may be a useful alternative for advertising online.
In the short term, it doesn’t appear that Facebook and Instagram’s advertising services will be affected much by any new changes. It will take some time for Facebook to resolve its data issues and enact significant shifts in the way that it handles things. For the time being most businesses will be able to carry on with their usual advertising tactics and not see too many negative changes.
It is difficult to tell how Facebook will handle data in the future and how it will adjust in order to prevent privacy violations. Businesses can maintain their advertising campaigns on the site but will also benefit by exploring other options. It will likely be some time before any real significant changes occur that will strongly impact Facebook Ads.
Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.