Facebook Ads Become Dramatically More Transparent

Ad URL ScreenshotThis evening Facebook added a new level of transparency to their ads with the addition of a single line of text: the URL of the page that the ad is promoting. Prior to now there was a huge gap in transparency within ads in that advertisements could be generated that said the destination page was about something it wasn’t. The result was that advertisers took advantage of this information gap as a tool to inflate the number of actions (likes) on individual ads. That gap has all but disappeared with this new addition.

For the time being it appears as though advertisements for places that are not on Facebook (off-site) will display the URLs, however anything that’s within Facebook won’t. For example, if you are promoting a new application within the advertisement, there won’t be a URL displaying where your application resides on Facebook. While this doesn’t add complete transparency to the advertisements being displayed on the site, it’s definitely a necessary feature.

It’s a component of the advertisement that Google has included since early on. The aim is to avoid having users click on an ad for something that turns out to be something completely different than what it was described as within the ad. While Facebook hasn’t made any formal announcement, it’s clearly a feature that benefits the users and protects them against misleading advertisements. While the same level of transparency doesn’t exist for on-site ads yet, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of increased transparency added in the future.