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Wednesday July 01, 2020 |Notes

Examining the latest facebook ad boycott

Recently, about a dozen brands have vowed to boycott advertising on Facebook. The boycott is in response to Facebook's ongoing lack of moderation of hate-speech on the platform.

Companies currently include Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Unilever, Verizon, Honda, The Hershey Co., Ben & Jerry's, Denny's, The North Face, REI, and Patagonia. It's a strong statement from some well-known brands. The move has drawn many headlines and provoked a lot of conversation. For the most part, brand awareness is a success for these companies and simply making their business part of the conversation has positive value.

In total, these companies make up a small fraction of the $4.2 billion in ad revenue Facebook accrued last year. In fact, over 70% of the ad revenue comes from small businesses. These businesses are far less likely to boycott Facebook as many rely heavily on the Facebook ad ecosystem to acquire customers. Besides, each individual business' ad spend means essentially nothing to Facebook's bottom line and there's little opportunity for brand exposure for niche market businesses.

As in the past, Facebook will make a few changes to appease, then move on as the newscycle becomes tired of the story. Many of the companies only vowed to boycott for a month anyway, and Facebook certainly has a way of helping promote distractions.

Change is needed in the online advertising landscape. Doing so effectively will take more than a boycott.

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