Facebook Is Giving Advertisers More Control Over Where Their Ads Appear

They'll be able to block out publishers more easily

The social network is cracking down on bad actors. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Brands advertising on Facebook will soon have more control over where their ads appear.

The social network is rolling out several tools aimed at providing more transparency before campaigns go live. The latest additions, announced today, will provide advertisers with a list of publishers up front to show where ads might appear via Instant Articles, in-stream ads within Facebook and across the Facebook Audience Network. While the tools are now in beta they’ll be rolled out over the course of this year.

This marks the first time marketers will be able to see where their campaigns might appear ahead of time. Along with pre-campaign previews, the company will now also let advertisers prevent ads from appearing in undesirable places by blocking them at the account level. However, advertisers won’t get a list afterward showing where all the ads went. While the block list isn’t anything new, the previous way of doing it required a bit of guesswork on the part of media buyers.

Previously, advertisers had to list every possible publication they might not want their ads running with and every app they didn’t want it to appear in. However, they still had no way of knowing if certain websites were even within Facebook’s network or using Instant Articles. The new list will be much more comprehensive, according to the company.

Michel Protti, Facebook’s director of product marketing, said the tools will help provide more transparency for advertisers before campaigns instead of only after. They’re also likely to assure an added level of brand safety so ads don’t appear alongside unsavory or irrelevant content.

“We want to make sure advertisers feel comfortable and have the right degree of transparency and control as to where their ads are running.”
Michel Protti, director of product marketing, Facebook

Protti said the additional tools are needed as Facebook creates new ways for ads to appear beyond Facebook’s own walls.

“As we expand these placements for marketers, we introduce this element of content adjacency,” Protti said. “And these ad experiences are much more tightly integrated with content. And in those environments, we want to make sure advertisers feel comfortable and have the right degree of transparency and control as to where their ads are running.”

Along with precampaign transparency and blocking, Facebook will also let advertisers have control over where video ads appear and what format they will use—in-stream, native or interstitial.

So what happens if Facebook says an ad will or won’t appear somewhere and then it does or doesn’t? Will they be refunded, for instance, or compensated in a different way? Protti said he wasn’t sure, explaining it’s still an “operational detail” that needs to be determined. Asked whether limiting locations could impact a campaign’s cost at the impression level, he said it could, depending on how many places an advertiser rules out.

“To the extent that you as an advertiser, you limit the pool of people, then yes, your campaign gets slightly less efficient,”Protti said.

Facebook’s transparency updates come as the company continues to build out new measurement capabilities. Today, Integral Ad Science, a measurement and analytics firm‚ announced it’s now letting marketers access expanded measurement and reporting across Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Audience Network.

@martyswant martin.swant@adweek.com Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.