Ad transparency seems to be the flavour of the season. Facebook rolled out its 'Info and Ads' section on brand pages recently which shows the ads that are currently being shown by that brand. Twitter has quickly followed suit with a lazily named section called the 'Ads Transparency Center'. Now the entire digital ad industry awaits to see the impact of this on their work.
Let me start out by clarifying one thing. I'm a first generation internet idealist who believes in the transparency and freedom of the internet. So having these features is definitely progressive on the part of Facebook and Twitter. Do these features have any real impact on the users (customers)?
Well, the honest answer is no. The consumer never wanted to see ads in the first place, let alone proactively looking for them.
The immediate effect on ad/media agencies will be the mass-scale snooping and sniffing on your competitors. This is probably happening as I write this. Social media is a very topical space hence agencies will feel the pressure to keep with competitors who are very active. Expect more last minute creatives and content because "My competitor just posted something on this today". In my opinion this will get mediocre agencies and brand teams to do a lot of 'me too' content. While the serious players will look to be even more unique by the differentiating content that they put out.
Agencies will also feel the brunt of more scrutiny now. The agency world is a cruel one where one's mistake feeds the other. Now with the ads freely visible to everyone, one can expect mistakes and miscommunication to be highlighted even more. Not that it didn't hurt earlier, its time to get tighter on your quality check of content.
One interesting thing noted by Digiday was the number of ads run simultaneously by some of the publications. Publications like Buzzfeed are running about 80+ ads through their Facebook page at a given time while Business Insider (2100+) and Ranker (5000+) were running ads numbered in thousands. It makes one wonder how many promotions are ideal for any brand considering regionality and topicality of their business and communication. Expect the number of ad creatives to also go up for a single campaign as much as being a part of your always on strategy. All things considered, signs point towards one obvious outcome -- more spends.
(The author is director - business development and strategy, Social Kinnect.)