(I mean you, not Trump).
The current Facebook storm was created by Cambridge Analytica’s ‘evil’ use of ‘data’. It is getting massive attention because of one simple, fact – Donald Trump is President.
The enormous tidal wave of emotion has been caused by people’s desire to point to an underhanded tactic or lack of fair play to explain the 2016 election result. Without the Trump effect, the issue is just about advertising in general. Boring.
Every political campaign ever has used ‘data’ for targeting messages to convince you to vote for their candidate. The role played by Facebook may be clever and techy, but it is no different in strategy. Digital marketing uses algorithms, scripts, data points, apps, databases, profiling, segmentation, custom audiences, look-a-like audiences, CPM’s, CPC’s, apps, third party data… The list is endless.
However, all that this clever stuff really achieves is lowering the cost on advertising. That’s it.
That’s all folks.
Good night, and let’s simply make Facebook say sorry for offering lower costs to the Trump campaign so we can all go back to normal.
Elon Musk can re-open his Facebook pages (He still has Instagram pages btw, and they use the exact same data and platforms that Facebook does, so this is beyond pointless) and we can all simmer down.
‘The data from Facebook is just about the cost of it. That data is bought and sold every day’ –Steve Bannon.
Trump’s team understood Wisconsin was in play because multiple data sources (including calling people by the phone and asking them) were showing a rise in right wing support. Nothing new. Clinton’s team thought it was a lock (through their data sources) and they were proved wrong. You can blame Facebook for that, but then you must also blame the telephone.
Take Florida (a swing state) as an example. It has a population of around 20,000,000 (20 million) people. Let’s assume 10,000,000 of them vote (10 million) and the CPM (Cost per thousand impressions) is $10. That means it would cost $100,000 to target them all with Facebook ads (For those in the industry, although I’m simplifying this, I am aware of R&F limitations, inventory, bidding and the other issues here). This would mean any message from Trump or Clinton could be delivered to all of these people for $100,000. They could also be targeted, click into a website (off from Facebook) and start a re-targeting journey based on their own clicking decisions – at this point Facebook’s involvement is done.
Or, you could use data, third party data, Custom Audiences (emails, phone numbers, web impressions, DID’s that the advertiser has access to) Facebook’s algorithms etc. to segment the people you think would be more likely to be influenced by a certain message.
To keep it simple – We can segment people who like multiple gun ownership pages and send them a fake news message full of fear like – ‘Clinton wants to repeal your 2nd Amendment’. And boom you have a post that will be shared like crazy. Let’s say that segment amounted to 1,000,000 (1 million) people, it would cost $10,000, so the campaign would save $90,000 by using that data. The same exact message could still be sent to those 1,000,000 people with a waste cost.
Remember, both campaigns used data. Both campaigns targeted people. Both campaigns concentrated spend on swing states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan,Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin)
With the current storm, Facebook’s first response (to your outrage) was to limit targeting. What does that do? It means advertisers/campaigns have to spend MORE money to reach the people they need to achieve their goals, and therefore waste impressions. The fake news still flows, as it does through other social media publishers, websites, emails, messenger apps and so on.
In 2005 I visited an older couple in Florida a year after the Bush v Kerry election of 2004. I asked them who they voted for. They replied, ‘Bush’. ‘Why?’, I asked. ‘Because Kerry was a war villain, he left his troops for dead and ran to the hills’. ‘No he didn’t’, I said. (Kerry was exonerated and has a decorated war record). ‘Yes, he did, we got a leaflet through the post, go get it honey’. And there we have it, the fake news message got to the right people, without any help from Facebook or clever digital advertising.
Sending Mark Zuckerberg to Congress is absurd. He will face questions that could be aimed at any other publisher/media owner including outdoor companies that place their billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. They place them based on ‘data’.
Some of his answers will be that Facebook has already taken some measures to limit advertisers access to data – this will result in nothing more than advertisers spending MORE money on ads, as they will be less effective at targeting. Cambridge Analytica’s ’breach of trust’ was a wrong doing, and they were told to delete the data, but this happens a lot, and to many other companies than Facebook. The way they collected the majority of their data is a legal, opted-in tactic used by many advertisers and political campaigns. If you have a problem with that, then you have a problem with advertising.
If you think Facebook was responsible for Trump winning the 2016 election, or Elon Muskhas started a revolution by deleting Facebook, then you deserve to be targeted by fake memes. People are allowing this to happen by not checking sources or, most probably, not wanting to.