The Facebook scandal has made headlines all over the world for the past week. The total number of public statements I have seen from the marketing and advertising industry “leaders” at the 4As and ANA: Zero
– While the rest of the world is nauseated by Facebook’s activities, the industry that has the deepest connection to it, and has the most to lose, is ours. And yet….crickets.
– One of the responsibilities of our trade organizations is to defend and protect the interests of advertisers. And yet…crickets.
– Where are all the major brand bullshitters who lecture us about their virtuous commitment to “brand purpose?” Hello? Anyone home?
Let’s be very clear. Facebook is a product of the advertising industry. The advertising and marketing industries are fully complicit with Facebook. Every bit of squalid work that Facebook does is at the behest of marketers.
Anyone in a position of authority in our industry who claims that he or she does not know what Facebook is up to is either a liar or an imbecile. Wait…I take that back. No one is that stupid. If they say they don’t know, they’re liars.
Over 98% of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising. It is time for the “leaders” of our industry — the 4As, the ANA, the IAB, and the major holding companies and brands — to be held accountable. They have encouraged, financed, and defended the creeps at Facebook (and the rest of the adtech squidocracy) too long. They have done nothing — zero — to attenuate the frightening effects of adtech’s dangerous activities.
Our industry “leaders” have neglected their responsibilities and driven the trustworthiness of our industry into the toilet while fraud has run rampant and unscrupulous operators like Facebook have taken control.
The ANA and/or the 4As should immediately institute and fund an independent commission to investigate the adtech industry — the fraud, the social consequences, and the secrecy. It is their only hope of retaining any trace of credibility.
Personally, I don’t need a commission to tell me what is going on. But the public and the average people working in advertising and marketing — who are horrified about what they are reading and hearing — do.
We desperately need people with independence, integrity, and balls to clear the air and try to resurrect the stinking carcass of our industry. We cannot leave it in the greasy hands of the people currently in control.
Chicken Shit On Parade
As mentioned above, one of the most alarming aspects of the Facebook scandal is the absence of the advertising and marketing industry from “the conversation.”
One reason may be that the disreputable activities that have been exposed in the past few weeks are mainly concerned with the cultural, societal and political irresponsibility that Facebook has been guilty of. Nobody really cares much if dumbass advertisers have been screwed blind and taken for a ride.
Facebook’s famous lies about their advertising business – their audience measurement, their ad metrics – are of little interest to the press or the general public and therefore have not been widely investigated. But…
“For years, Facebook has misrepresented core metrics to investors and advertisers…”
Frances Haugen to members of the US Congress
No one with half a lobe believes that FB has any more scruples about its business practices than it does about its social responsibility.
Another reason I believe our industry has been silent is that Facebook has bought and “owns” the industry. No one in a position of authority has the balls to call them out.
Thus far the press and public have not quite put two and two together and realized that the marketing industry is the hidden hand behind all the appalling FB headlines. This needs to change. Someone needs to wake up and explain to the world how FB got where it is. If I was a business reporter, here’s what I’d be hunting down… (NYTImes, WSJournal, WashPost, no charge for this!)
Industry Trade Organizations:
– How much money does Facebook contribute annually to the advertising “watchdog” agencies — 4As, the ANA and the IAB?
– How many of the events, conferences, and meetings of these organizations does Facebook sponsor? How much money does Facebook pay them to sponsor these events? How much say does Facebook have about the content of the sessions they sponsor?
– How many Facebook employees sit on their boards and committees? At what level and in what capacities?
Agency Holding Companies:
– What arrangements does the company have with Facebook to provide formal or informal consulting services to the agencies? Are these activities fully disclosed and transparent to clients?
– What type of consumer or media metrics or research does Facebook provide to the agencies? What established mechanisms are in place to verify and validate the metrics that Facebook provides?
– Facebook metrics have been reliably unreliable. Has the holding company investigated this? Have results been disclosed to clients?
Marketers and Brands:
– Do you have Facebook employees embedded in your marketing or media department? Do you pay for this or does Facebook provide it “gratis?”
– Do you have Facebook employees who are not embedded, but act as advisors or informal consultants? Do you pay for this or does Facebook provide it “gratis?”
– What oversight controls are in place to validate the media planning and spending recommendations that Facebook employees do for you?
– Does Facebook contribute to, or sponsor, any of your brand conferences, brand “summits,” or any other marketing or “educational” events? If so, in what capacity and what is the cash value of their participation?
– How many of your events, conferences, and meetings does Facebook sponsor?
– How much money do they pay you for these sponsorships?
– How much control do they have over the content of the sessions they sponsor?
– What formal mechanisms do you have in place to verify and validate the information you publish that is provided to you by Facebook or its employees?
As you can see, I suspect that all along the advertising supply chain Facebook has inappropriate power and has been a corrupting influence. I believe they have proxies, lapdogs, and useful idiots with conflicting interests all over our industry.
You can expect some very high-level horseshit, back-pedaling, and double-talk if the media (or the pathetic trade press) ever get their hands on hard evidence of how Facebook knowingly lies to advertisers and how trade orgs, agencies, and the trade press have turned a blind eye.
Wait…I take that back. Hard evidence already exists and no one in authority seems to give 2/5 of a flying shit. The corruption and incompetence are thrilling to behold.
One of These Two Lied to Congress
Lying to Congress is a felony that carries a maximum 5-year prison term.
Memo of the Week
You can bet your sweet ass that this never appeared in writing but went out loud and clear through the executive ranks at Facebook this week….
Tweet of the Week
When Facebook went dark for 6 hours…
Comedy Highlight of the Century
We’ll leave the last word today to the great man himself…
“We talk about this concept of openness and transparency as the high-level ideal that we’re moving towards at Facebook.”
– Mark Zuckerberg
Guest Author: Bob Hoffman is creator of the popular “The Ad Contrarian” blog and newsletter, named one of the world’s most influential marketing and advertising blogs by Business Insider
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