Jul 2, 2020 - Economy

Why advertisers mistrust Facebook

GIF of a gyrating Facebook logo.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than 400 major advertisers, including Unilever, CVS, and Verizon, have pulled their ads from Facebook and Instagram as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign organized by advocacy groups including Color for Change, NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Sleeping Giants.

Why it matters: The ease with which the campaign has signed up advertisers is only in part a function of its intrinsic merits. It's clear that brand advertisers and their agencies kinda wanted to make this move anyway.

Background: Agencies have been reconsidering their social-media spending for years. Procter & Gamble cut $100 million from its digital marketing spend in 2017 and said it saw "little impact on its business," while Adidas admitted last year that it had "over-invested" in digital.

How it works: It's normally impossible for an agency to persuade a client to turn off social entirely, even if they would love to do that just to see what effect it has. But when turning off social comes with an easy PR win, while staying on Facebook is a PR loss, then the conversation becomes a lot easier.

  • Marketing budgets are being slashed anyway as a quiet summer approaches. Cutting one huge line item is more elegant than trying to find savings in many different places.

The bottom line: Most agencies working for large brands will admit that they often wonder just what they're getting out of their social-media ad expenditure. This boycott gives them a perfect opportunity to find out.

Go deeper: As boycott grows, Facebook juggles rights groups and advertisers

Go deeper