After a formal investigation concluded that Russia used misleading Facebook ads to sway the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, it became clear that the social network needed to double down on its push for transparency. In response, Facebook rolled out an update this summer that allows users to view all ads that a brand currently runs on the platform.

The 90octane Social team has been monitoring this update to bring you insights into its impact and how you can leverage it to your advantage in future campaigns.

But first—why did this happen?

This update is one of the measures Facebook has taken to prevent future manipulation in various campaigns. Their hope is that increased transparency will help users hold advertisers accountable for the messages in their ads and preserve the integrity of Facebook’s advertising machine.

How does this work?

Users can currently view ads on any company page using both mobile and desktop devices.

To view ads via mobile:

  • Navigate to a brand’s Facebook page.
  • Look below the cover photo for a button marked, “Info and Ads.”
  • Click this button to see the brand’s active Facebook and Instagram ads, sorted according to the countries they target.

To view ads via desktop:

  • Navigate to a brand’s Facebook page.
  • Look in the left column under the profile picture for a button marked, “Info and Ads.”
  • Click this button to show active ads. 

Either of these routes will give you access to creative assets and messaging, with just one exception: the Facebook “Offer Objective” ad. This is an ad that includes a tangible targeted offer, such as a downloadable coupon for residents who live in a certain area. While you can view ads like this using the new transparency tool, the offer language will be hidden if you do not fall within its targeting parameters. 

What does this mean for your future campaigns?

Any curious Facebook user (including a competitor) can see all your brand’s ads, even if they don’t personally meet your targeting criteria. But don’t panic. While the update may feel jarring, it provides marketers with valuable insights that were never available before. Historically, marketers had to rely on organic content and social listening tools to help dissect their competitors’ strategies. This feature gives unprecedented visibility into competitors’ messaging and creative, which marketers can leverage to strengthen their own strategies.

Three things to keep in mind moving forward:

  1. Be cautious when using a promotion or message that is intended for a specific audience. Remember: Anyone on Facebook can now see that, so keep messaging relevant to a broad audience and use targeted messaging on a gated landing page, instead.
  2. Account-based marketing is going to be much trickier. Keep messaging more generic on Facebook and Instagram by not calling out your identified target accounts, and drive prospects to a generic landing page. Reserve company-specific messaging for targeted campaigns on LinkedIn.
  3. When a user clicks on an ad using this transparency tool, URL tracking codes (like UTMs and CIDs) should be automatically removed in order to maintain accurate engagement metrics. However, this isn’t always the case. This means that your referral traffic might include users who aren’t members of your target audience. Keep a close eye on your metrics, as irrelevant referral traffic could cause a jump in bounce rate.

More questions about this update? Contact us.

This feature gives unprecedented visibility into competitors’ messaging and creative, which marketers can leverage to strengthen their own strategies.

About the Author

Courtney Shaw

Senior Social Media Strategist

Courtney is a social media wizard who uses data to create and optimize client campaigns. She works on B2B programs, tackling objectives including demand generation and account-based marketing. When she isn’t mastering full-funnel social media programs, you can find this Chipotle enthusiast on the dance floor.

About the Author

Kelsey Brown

Social Media Strategist

Kelsey is a social media nerd who thrives on optimizing strategic social media campaigns and telling compelling stories with data. When she’s not working, she’s usually in the mountains with her dogs.