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Mobile Monday: Major Brands Boycott Facebook Advertising, Apple Announces Privacy Changes

Posted Jun 28, 2020

The digital advertising industry is no stranger to rapid change but recent events could cause upheavals with long-lasting effects. After years of controversy, Facebook is facing an advertising boycott that has quickly grown larger than any before. Verizon and Honda have joined other major brands in pulling their ads from the platform to demand stricter policies on hateful content and misinformation. Meanwhile, Apple will soon require app developers to seek greater consent from iOS device users. Get all the details in this week’s Mobile Monday!

Coca-Cola, Verizon, and Honda Become the Latest Big Advertisers to Boycott Facebook

In the past week, major brands including Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s, Verizon, Honda, and most recently Coca-Cola have joined a boycott against Facebook and are pulling their digital advertising spends from the platform for July. This comes after Anti-Defamation League published an open letter titled “Stop Hate for Profit” which calls out Facebook’s controversial policies surrounding hate speech and misinformation. The media giant has already been embroiled in huge scandals like the Cambridge Analytica data breach but brands were still reluctant to leave the platform because of its broad reach and scale.

The recent cultural movement has made this boycott stick in a way that hasn’t been seen before. Companies are starting to reevaluate having their ads next to Facebook content that could cause negative perceptions and impact on their brand image. Instead of spending money on that platform, advertisers could turn to brand-safe channels that don’t contain user-generated content. As brands announced their plans to join the boycott, Facebook shares fell 1.3% on Thursday. While small businesses comprise the bulk of Facebook’s advertisers, big brands like Verizon can exert pressure on the company both publicly and financially.

Apple Sets New Privacy Policies

During Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference last week, the company made some huge announcements regarding privacy disclosure. While many in the adtech world expected the demise of the IDFA, instead the company is putting the onus on developers to disclose the kinds of permissions that their apps ask for when they submit apps for approval, allowing the user to know what kind of data they may have to give over in order to use the app. It will also explain how that collected data could be tracked outside of the app. The opt-in/out examples given by Apple follow the same format users will be used to seeing from their location, microphone, and camera (which are also getting their own indicators). Apple is also requiring developers to have a “nutrition label” of exactly what apps are tracking and sharing.

This doubling down on the transparency required for an open and honest ecosystem should come as no surprise to those who have been following Apple’s stance on privacy over the past few years — distancing itself from Google and Amazon as much as possible.

These changes present a significant challenge across the industry, but for Facebook and other ad platforms whose revenue is almost wholly dependent on targeted advertising spliced with their deep demographic data, the appeal of which has outweighed some less-serious brand safety concerns. The removal of these methods of targeting could prove even more difficult than for those with experience in optimizing contextual campaigns and monetization strategies across non-user-generated content environments like mobile gaming. 

If users opt-out, will Facebook, Twitter, and Snap continue to hold as much value for advertisers on mobile, or should they see this as another sign to shift spend to networks and platforms with more contextual experience, and brand-safe environments?

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Mobile Monday examines the latest news, trends, and developments in mobile apps, tech, and advertising. Do you have a story to share for the next Mobile Monday?   

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