Business Today

Facebook Fix

What's on marketers' mind?
Devika Singh   New Delhi     Print Edition: April 22, 2018
Facebook Fix

'Data is the new oil'. It is not clear who deserves credit for coining this phrase, but it has been used extensively by the who's who - from Mukesh Ambani to Virginia Rometty. And it seems, like oil, data too is going to create a storm around the world, if not a war. The Facebook data breach episode, wherein the social media giant has been accused of leaking personal data of its users allowing misuse by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, shocked some and validated the fears of some others'.

As users mull over deleting their Facebook accounts, brands find themselves in a moral dilemma. While they don't want to be on a platform that is facing a backlash across the world for its negligence, they cannot afford to turn their back on the marketing opportunities Facebook presents.

For years now, brands have used data provided by the platform for targetted advertising. But the data breach has forced FMCG brands to do a relook. Companies like Tesla and Mozilla have reportedly put a stop to their activities on Facebook. Will Indian brands follow suit? How will it affect the digital marketing space in India?

According to Ashish Bhasin, Chairman and CEO, South Asia, Dentsu Aegis Network, this is not going to have any significant impact on digital marketing in India, given the scale at which it is growing in India. A recent report by the agency projects that, by 2020, digital advertising is expected to have almost 25 per cent share in the overall advertising market in India - which will roughly amount to `18,986 crore.

"The growth in digital advertising is not happening because of Google, Facebook or any specific channel. It is happening because there is a substantial change at the macro level and more users are taking to Internet in India," Bhasin adds.

Although most digital marketing experts do not see a major change in the short term, they believe if Facebook fails to address the issue and user numbers decline, then brands too would start withdrawing.

"As long as there are users on the platform brands will advertise there," says Rohit Raj, Co-founder & Creative Chief at digital agency The Glitch.

This episode will certainly ensure that brands and social networks tread with caution. "Consumers are not going to change their digital consumption habits drastically because of this incident. But they are more aware now. Social networks and apps will become more responsible and transparent in data collection," says Shrenik Gandhi, Co-founder White Rivers Media.

However, the possibility of a shift in preference among users and advertisers towards other social media sites is likely. Neil Shah, Research Director, Devices & Ecosystems at Counterpoint Research, says that Facebook-owned Instagram could inadvertently benefit, though the biggest beneficiary could be Twitter or Google.

"Other ad-based services such as Hotstar, Wynk, Truecaller and YouTube could also benefit. The form of targetted advertising will differ depending on the alternative platforms marketers choose," he adds.



Facebook Fence

Firefox has introduced a new tool on the Mozilla browser to help users keep their browsing private and isolate their Facebook identity from the rest of the web. Called Facebook Container, this add-on would disallow Facebook from tracking a user's activity to target ads. Users can continue browsing their Facebook accounts normally, but more privately.

Clean Slate

Reddit has banned subreddits and communities related to dark web markets on its platform. A subreddit on the subject R/DarkNetMarkets, which had over 1,60,000 readers, is now inaccessible. Reddit has been cracking down on illegal activities on its platform and recently also updated its community guidelines.

A report by data privacy consultancy Arrka says that on average, Indian apps seek 7.9 'dangerous permissions' from users. this is significantly higher than what US APPS seek

Shop Easy

Pinterest is expanding its Shopping Ads tool to reach more marketers and advertisers. The tool, which places advertisements in customers' search feeds, will now allow brands to upload their product catalogues and showcase select products, so consumers can simply click and purchase items directly on the retailer's site.

Keep Watching

YouTube is testing a new feature which would allow viewers to minimise the window and continue watching the video on desktop while browsing the web. The feature is already available on iOS and Android versions of the app, and has now been extended to the website.

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