Facebook has expanded its controls on advertising, making its ad preferences service easier to use and updating its approach to ad blocking – a move that has been criticised by Adblock Plus.
According to a blog post by Facebook vice president of ads and business platform Andrew Bosworth, tools have been introduced to help users control their experience, with the aim of improving the decision-making process of which ads and ad formats are served.
Users can select to stop seeing certain types of ads, for example about a particular interest like travel or cats. People can also select to remove themselves from customer lists of businesses and organisations, giving people more control over how data informs the ads they are served.
“For the past few years at Facebook we’ve worked to better understand people’s concerns with online ads,” said Bosworth. “What we’ve heard is that people don’t like to see ads that are irrelevant to them or that disrupt or break their experience. People also want to have control over the kinds of ads they see.”
However, Bosworth said that Facebook would continue to display ads to consumers using ad blockers.
“Rather than paying ad blocking companies to unblock the ads we show — as some of these companies have invited us to do in the past — we’re putting control in people’s hands with our updated ad preferences and our other advertising controls,” he added.
In a blog titled ‘Oh well, looks like Facebook just got all anti-user’, Adblock Plus public relations manager Ben Williams stated that Facebook’s “unfortunate move” to “circumvent users with ad-blocking software” was a “dark path against user choice”.
“It’s hard to imagine Facebook or the brands that are being advertised on its site getting any sort of value for their ad dollar here: publishers (like Facebook) alienate their audience and advertisers (the brands) allow their cherished brand name to be shoved down people’s throats. Yikes,” said Williams.
In March 2016, Adblock Plus celebrated a lawsuit victory against German newspaper publisher Süddeutsche Zeitung, the fifth court decision of its kind in the country.
“As Facebook has acknowledged, the industry needs to look at the wider picture, and recognise that ad blockers only exist because of poor quality advertising,” commented Blis chief executive officer and founder Greg Isbister. “With a huge 71% of ad block users stating that they would proactively whitelist sites that meet “acceptable” criteria, it’s clear that high quality, personalised content, is the industry’s most valuable weapon in the war against ad blockers.
“It is therefore important not to ignore those using ad blockers, but instead to ensure that the right adverts are served to the right people, at the right time, and in the right location. Through this approach, adverts become interesting, engaging and valuable to consumers, discouraging them from deploying ad blockers in the first place. This in turn drives ROI for marketers and revenues for publishers, and enhances the overall user experience, presenting a sustainable solution in the long term.”