It is not a surprise that Ad Platforms now more than ever are promoting their “privacy” and “protecting the users” ideas just to gain profit for themselves, we’ve seen it more than a few times with, for example, Google’s FLoCs and new content restrictions, but it still every now and then a new initiative gets to actually impress us, and today, was Facebook’s turn to do so. How? Well, by introducing a new “no cross-countries Ad launching” policy. So let’s dive in and see what it’s all about, shall we?
For a while now, we’ve known Facebook’s policies towards Political Advertising have been getting stricter and we remember that one of their first moves was, in the name of Ad transparency, to make every Ad include a line exposing where the person launching the Ad was located in. Basically, their idea back then was to make sure every person that got an Ad about their elections knew who the advertiser was, so they didn’t get pulled in another country’s intentions to tear apart their own. A little dramatic if you ask me, and also it seemed as if they were really trying to get people to find new ways to avoid their policies creatively.
However, it seems like they went even further this time. That policy didn’t restrict Ads that were launched in a foreign country, it just exposed where they were from so users had access to that information. But the new one is actually much deeper and it was recently found out by one of our PPC Club 83 buddies. Basically, due to the French elections, Facebook no longer allows any other country’s Ad creators to launch Ads targeted at French Audiences. So, in apparent order to protect French elections, they simply ignored every other factor that could’ve been related and simply forbid it.
For example, take our friend’s situation: He’s a French specialist who runs a French Agency and owns a French passport, besides having validated social disclaimers and having the 2 step authenticator on his phone. But he’s located in London and validated his location honestly, so Facebook disapproved his Ads, which by the way were meant for some Charity Projects that he also runs. So this poses the question of what’s Facebook actually up to?
It’d take something as simple as using a VPN or getting an IP from your targeted country to just go ahead and run your Ads. Just as what happened with the Political Ads transparency, this seems like a policy meant to be circled around, doesn’t it? Because even if you are not trying to mess up the French elections, you’ll be caught up in the non-approved Ads issue. As we’ve seen recently, Facebook didn’t have any trouble approving Ads about alcohol and gambling targeted at teenagers, but for sure running Ads about charity targeted for France is really dangerous, isn’t it? Again, it all seems very weird to me and leads me to think about the many collateral problems that this situation could create.
For starters, we have situations just like my friends. He’s a good guy trying to run an honest Ad Campaign and he’s not able to do so because 1) He’s located in London even though his agency is French and 2) He didn’t lie to Facebook about it. So this appears to be one of those situations where being a good person is actually the wrong way to go, and Facebook is promoting it… Again. In my opinion, this will only lead to having more users and Ad creators figure out new ways of tricking Facebook into believing they are somewhere else, somewhere like their targeted countries. And hey, my friend was not up for anything shady, but do you think people that actually are up for messing up French elections will care about Facebook’s new restrictions? No, they’ll just go ahead and figure out how to get away with their intentions.
Also, with a scenario as globalized as the one we are living in, cross-country hiring is a really big thing and every day more and more companies are choosing to go for international employees. And how is this related to Facebook’s new policy? Well, what’s the use in hiring a PPC that won’t be able to actually launch an Ad Campaign? Not really the best way to go. So Facebook’s policy is not only affecting the regular way the Ad industry works, but it’s also getting in the way of the PPC Job Market. Crazy how just a naive policy saying to protect the French elections can actually be harmful in so many ways, right?
Actually, it’s not crazy at all and it’s not the first time we’ve seen Facebook making choices jeopardizing their users’ success. So this really gets my head going on and on about why would Facebook make this move when just being transparent about the Ad’s origin country seemed like enough. Is it possible that they are engaged in some sort of deal (wouldn’t be their first secret deal anyway) with any big French Marketing Leader? Or maybe they are facing legal issues of some sort? The possibilities are infinite but probably will never leave their headquarters.
So, to conclude, I believe the Ad world that we live in will keep getting more and more difficult every day, and that’s why we need to remain both updated and cautious. It’s crazy to give this advice, but also I think it’s important to figure out when’s the time to be the good honest guy, and when the situation requires a creative way around it. And I don’t think this is unethical at all, because if Facebook’s intending to keep one-upping the publishers, then shouldn’t they respond? They should, not only for their own profit but also for paving the way for the ones that come next.
Mora is a PPC Analyst at Hellbent Digital at work, and a theater nerd when not at work. And it turns out understanding theater—that is, how to put on compelling live shows that engage the audience—is a very useful skill for understanding digital marketing.