Over the last 72 hours, big brands like Coca-Cola, Ben & Jerry’s, Adidas, Chobani, and others have paused spend or pledged to permanently boycott advertising on Facebook. Other companies, like Unilever, announced their decision to boycott Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter through 2020.
We have taken the decision to stop advertising on @Facebook, @Instagram & @Twitter in the US through the end of 2020.— UnileverUSA (@unileverusa) June 26, 2020
The polarized atmosphere places an increased responsibility on brands to build a trusted & safe digital ecosystem. https://t.co/X9LAZ1Ua5i pic.twitter.com/47LE3HcTFD
According to eMarketer, Google’s advertising revenue is forecasted to drop by 5.3% by the end of 2020 due to pull backs on traveler ad spend. However, Facebook was originally forecasted to grow by 4.9%. This no longer seems likely. Since Friday, Facebook’s shares fell by 8.3% and the company lost over $7 billion in advertising revenue. While Facebook is adding labels to some posts and expanding its policies, for many, it’s not good enough or fast enough.
Why did this happen?
The pressure has been rising for Facebook and other social media platforms to crack down on hate speech and misinformation. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, along with others, launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign earlier this month, to call on major brands to pause advertising on Facebook as a response to the platform’s “repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms."
What does this mean?
Consumers are waking up to racial injustice and the role large corporations play in perpetuating misinformation and hate speech. Brands can no longer remain silent — consumers demand swift action.
While these huge brands only make up a small percentage of Facebook’s ad revenue, the small and midsize businesses that are Facebook’s bread and butter could — and most likely will — begin to follow suit. Facebook has over eight million advertisers, yet a group of brands that represent over a quarter of Facebook’s ad revenue are joining the #StopHateforProfit fight. It’s a powerful show of force that can’t be ignored.
What can you do?
The decision to pause ad spend is a difficult one for many businesses, both small and large. WIth 2.6 billion users worldwide, Facebook is an advertising giant and considered an essential part of the marketing mix.
What’s important to remember is that brands are not boycotting Facebook forever or just to boycott them. They are doing this to put pressure on Facebook to take a stance and act quickly. March Pritchard, Chief Brand Office of Proctor & Gamble said that the company would not be, “advertising on or near content that we determine is hateful, denigrating, or discriminatory.” For Unilever, they’ve decided that “continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society.”
For your brand, it gets down to two things: your values and your revenue. Brands must look inward to see what they believe in and take actions rooted in those values. On the other hand, some businesses can’t afford to stop advertising on Facebook. They’re suffering from the business effects of the pandemic and Facebook is their primary source of lead generation.
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