For Advertisers on Facebook, Friday’s Security Breach ‘Barely Registers’

'No one is really paying attention to it'

Marketers aren't shying away from Facebook because of its latest data breach. Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Here’s a sliver of good news for Facebook: Advertisers and marketers are largely unconcerned with the social media giant’s latest security breach, which compromised more than 50 million accounts’ private information.

Facebook has provided few updates so far on the extent of the attack, but said in a blog post Tuesday that third-party apps that allow users to log in using Facebook credentials were not affected as far as they could tell. For marketers, the lack of information about the extent of the breach and what it will mean has led to some confusion. Overall, though, they are continuing business as usual—at least for now.

“[Data breaches have] happened so many times that people are like, ‘Well, this sounds pretty bad, but what are we going to do?’ We still have to advertise on Facebook,” said Kevin Urrutia, a co-founder and partner at the agency Voy Media, which specializes in Facebook and Instagram advertising. “ … At some point you become so used to it that it barely registers.”

Urrutia said he’s received some emails from a few clients asking about the breach, but that the volume has been nowhere near as high as the client concerns that poured in following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal. And while Urrutia acknowledged that the breach was a concerning security issue, he said users and marketers alike are becoming numb to security breaches.

“The overall feeling is that no one is really paying attention to it,” Urrutia said.

Kerry Perse, the managing director of social at media agency OMD, similarly said that while advertisers are aware of the breach, the agency did not foresee the breach having any significant or immediate impact on spend levels.

“Advertisers are gearing up for Q4 and will be reticent to move spend from any channel they know has historically delivered business results,” Perse said. “They won’t see this as a big enough impetus to absorb the risk.”

The challenge for advertisers, however, is to determine the effects the breach may have on Facebook user growth and user confidence in the long run. In a survey of U.S. consumers conducted in July, Facebook was ranked the least-trusted brand among the top 100 consumer-facing Fortune 500 brands.

A media buyer said that Facebook advertisers might pull back if Facebook’s perception in the public leads to less time spent on the platform.

“[The breach] will continue to erode user confidence in the platform and may deter new or existing users,” the media buyer said. “This could include users deleting the app, spending less time on Facebook and not sharing as much meaningful content. If this happens, it will definitely impact advertiser spend in the long term.”

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.