Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

As Major Companies Pull Advertising, Facebook Executives Admit to ‘Trust Deficit’

The Anti-Defamation League:

In response to Facebook’s repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms, six organizations today announced a new campaign, #StopHateforProfit, that asks large Facebook advertisers to show they will not support a company that puts profit over safety. ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color Of Change, Free Press and Common Sense have created a coalition of the nation’s most storied civil rights organizations calling for some of the world’s largest corporations to pause advertising on Facebook during the month of July 2020.

Megan Graham, CNBC:

Verizon said on Thursday it is pulling advertising on Facebook until the company “can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable.”

A company spokesperson said the pause applies to both Facebook and Instagram. It comes as marketers including Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and REI have also said they plan to pause advertising on the platforms.

Anthony Ha, TechCrunch:

Then today, it was joined by consumer goods giant Unilever, which said it will halt all U.S. advertising on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and even Twitter, at least until the end of the year.

“Based on the current polarization and the election that we are having in the U.S., there needs to be much more enforcement in the area of hate speech,” Unilever’s executive vice president of global media Luis Di Como told The Wall Street Journal.

Put a pin in “Unilever”.

Hannah Murphy, Financial Times:

A leading Facebook executive has told advertisers the company is suffering from a “trust deficit” as it tries to stop brands joining a boycott over its policies on political content moderation.

The world’s largest social media group joined a conference call with almost 200 advertisers on Tuesday, according to people familiar with the discussion. Senior policy executives then defended Facebook’s decision to allow several controversial posts from US president Donald Trump to remain on its platform.

According to leaked audio of the call obtained by the Financial Times, Neil Potts, Facebook’s head of trust and safety policy, acknowledged that the company suffered from a “trust deficit” but added that it was “here to listen” to its clients’ concerns. The call was convened by the Interactive Advertising Bureau trade body in Canada.

Tanya Dua, Business Insider (both this and the Financial Times link above are ostensibly paywalled, but I trust that you are clever):

Mark Zuckerberg this week addressed a group of top-ranking executives from agency holding companies and advertisers including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Dentsu Aegis Network, and Omnicom Media Group.

The companies are part of the client council, a small-knit group of marketing heavyweights from brands and ad agencies who work closely with Facebook on product features and other feedback.

He acknowledged the advertisers’ concerns over its policies on political content moderation, explained the company’s position, tried to assure them that the company was reviewing policies and decision-making processes, and took questions.

Casey Newton:

Very cynical take: ad budgets are shrinking already during the pandemic. Why not get some applause for it?

Seb Joseph, reporting for Digiday in April:

The planning process for marketers is being thrown into disarray. With uncertainty pervading all aspects of business, marketers are forced to pare down their plans and focus only on a month or two head. Annual plans are, for the most part, a relic of a different era.

“In many cases, we’re either in re-planning mode or ring-fencing budgets for certain brands,” said the chief media officer at global [consumer packaged goods] manufacturer.

[…]

In reality, what happens is those brands that are doing moderately well for the business will get fewer media dollars in the second and third quarters of the year to ease the company’s cash flow on the basis that more will be eventually invested in the fourth quarter to ensure those targets are met, said the chief media officer.

Molly Fleming, reporting for MarketingWeek in April:

Unilever is stopping major advertising production and exploring cheaper media in a bid to make savings during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The [fast-moving consumer goods] giant’s chief executive, Alan Jope, told investors on a call today (23 April) that the company would be halting the production of major ad campaigns and “reviewing all spend to be effective”.

It is very hard to know how effective the ADL’s campaign is when companies are reducing their advertising budgets anyway. To be clear, I do not think that the ADL itself is cynically taking advantage of lower spending, but it is very possible that some companies are shamelessly rationalizing their withdrawal.