In recent weeks, Bon Appétite’s editor-in-chief stepped down, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s pledged to change their branding, thousands of people are taking to the streets to protest systemic racism and police brutality not just in America but around the world, and name brands are pulling advertising from Facebook.
With brands pulling ads from social media platforms and consumers having a higher interest in how brands support communities and causes, now is the time for brands to start creating meaningful and direct partnerships with publishers.
As Vice Media Group’s Marsha Cooke, senior vice president of Impact, said in her presentation at the IAB NewFronts, “Words matter … How you spend your ad dollars matters.”
The North Face was the first big brand to pull advertising from the platform in response to the “‘Stop Hate for Profit” campaign led by Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and other civil rights organizations that calls on advertisers to suspend ads on Facebook for the duration of July. REI was quick to join The North Face after it made its announcement to halt advertising on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram. Starbucks followed suit and the Coca-Cola Company announced that it was not only pausing advertising on Facebook, but all social media platforms starting July 1st.
The solidarity of these brands in taking a stance against hate speech has resulted in the decline of Facebook’s stock with a roughly $60 billion decrease in its market value in just the first two days of companies removing their ads from the platform. This campaign against Facebook and other social media platforms stems from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s lack of response to hate speech and the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Facebook answered with changes in its policy. In the future, users will see a Voting Information Center at the top of Facebook and Instagram feeds to inform voters about mail-in ballots during the pandemic. In an effort to fight voter suppression, all posts that mention voting will be linked to the Voting Information Center to check the accuracy of the post. Posts that might intimidate voter turnout from certain groups will be banned and an Elections Operations Center will address and remove false claims about polling conditions throughout the three days leading up to election day. Additionally, Facebook will prohibit a broader scope of hateful language and tag posts by political figures that violate its standards for hate speech “newsworthy” if the post is of public interest.
While a loss of $60 billion in market value seems like a big hit, Business Insider reports that Facebook has more than 8 million advertisers. Therefore, the company’s revenue will not take a big hit, but it does face more pressure to take a stance on hate speech and the spread of misinformation.
Mainstream social media platforms are vast and it can be difficult to find a company that exactly matches what your brand views as important.
Not only do certain brands want to be a part of a positive change and use their platforms to make an actual impact, but consumers expect it of them as well. A recent study from Edelman found “That the majority of consumers want—and expect—brands to step up and play a central role in addressing bigotry and oppression,” according to AdWeek.
With direct partnerships, brands can advertise with publishers that better align with their values and who have an audience that matches what the brand is looking for. Transparent relationships can be formed with direct partnerships and there will be a greater authenticity in storytelling.