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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

Oct 8, 2020 - Technology

Facebook removes inauthentic campaign linked to Turning Point USA

Charlie Kirk, founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, speaks at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 8, 2018. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Facebook said Thursday that it took down a coordinated inauthentic behavior campaign that was being run by Rally Forge LLC, a U.S. marketing firm working on behalf of pro-Trump student organization Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group, an organization that appeared to be focused on trophy hunting in Africa.

Why it matters: It's the most recent example of Facebook taking action on a group linked to fringe conservatives or conservative ideology for spreading misinformation or attempting to persuade public debate with fake accounts.

Tech's steadily tightening limits on political ads

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Nearly every major tech platform has acted to limit political ads in some way since 2016. Some have enacted strict bans and allow no political, social or election ads whatsoever, while others have put more temporary or partial limits in place.

Why it matters: Formal federal regulation of online political ads is not in sight, but the pressure on platforms from lawmakers and activists has so far been enough to push them to act voluntarily.

NYT debuts new ad program to help brands address sensitive topics

New York Times

The New York Times is launching a new advertising insights program called "Pivotal" which will provide marketing partners with research and guidance on the best ways to address controversial issues like race, climate, sex, gender, tech and money.

Why it matters: "This is one of the most ambitious things we've done in advertising to-date," says Allison Murphy, The Times' senior vice president of ad innovation.