Many practitioners now say they have plans to shift resources into other channels — and in some cases have already started moving budget away from Facebook in the wake of its unveiling of a political ad opt-out feature.
Lindsey Kolb, digital director at Beltway firm DDC Public Affairs, said that she’s been educating clients “on what programmatic is and what those options are” as a way to convince them to move budgets away from Facebook.
In her clients’ minds, Kolb said during C&E’s recent CampaignTech at Home Conference on July 8, “all that really matters to them is Facebook and Twitter and what the internet trolls are saying.
“But in reality, you can get a lot more bang for your buck sometimes moving those conversations out of Facebook and moving them into a programmatic space where it’s just persuasive messaging.”
Kolb noted that while CPAs are now lower on Facebook — in part, because of major brands boycotting the company over what they consider inaction on extremist content — the environment is more hostile.
“With all of these different social changes that are happening, if we’re posting from a huge trade association or coalition, it creates its own form of negative messaging between our audience,” she said. “There’s lots of programmatic ways where you can do a social boost, where you can boost that organic content in a programmatic way without actually giving money to Facebook.”
Mike Schneider, a partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), warned against just shifting content from Facebook without “rigorous measurement” of viewers’ interactions with it.
“If people are annoyed at a brand for advertising, just moving that advertising to a place where they can’t directly complain about it doesn’t really solve the underlying problem,” he said.
Moreover, Schneider warned that campaigns who are leaving the walled garden of Facebook will have a more difficult time reaching their target audiences: “We just have this challenging situation where there’s more inventory than ever available, but it’s harder sometimes for less sophisticated campaigns to make efficient use of it.”
He noted YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, and other streaming services are “restricting some of the targeting options that have been the cornerstone of political [ad] buying for years.”
He also advised campaigns to consider experimenting with novel placements instead — such as out-of-home advertising, which is cheaper because fewer people are venturing out during the ongoing pandemic. Even billboards, he said, “can be a really powerful placement.”
As for the remainder of the digital landscape, campaigns need to start booking premium inventory quickly, noted Schneider: “If you haven’t [started], that time is definitely now.”
Ivanka Farrell, director of media operations at BPI, said one area that would take budget from Facebook is streaming video via OTT and CTV.
“The downside of that is it’s more expensive,” she said. “The reality is if you’re spending your budget in August, people won’t remember in late October or early November. Sometimes you have to go when it’s crowded,” she said, adding that campaigns need to make sure “you’re being smart about your audience.”