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Facebook’s new transparency could come at a price for political advertisers. Photo: Jeff Chiu / AP

In an effort to self-regulate advertising on its platform, Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday that in the coming months, Facebook will not only require that political advertisers disclose which Facebook page paid for an ad, "but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser's page and see the ads they're currently running to any audience on Facebook."

Why it matters: Ad buyers overwhelmingly support Facebook's efforts to be more transparent and to crack down on ads that lead to bad pages, but worry about how publicly disclosing their ads will change the way they compete with those advocating for opposing ideologies.

  • "This is a win for transparency and a win for Facebook ad revenue. Even the campaign managers and advertisers most reluctant to spend on Facebook ads might change their minds and up their budgets when they see what ads their competitors are running," says Colin Berglund, digital director at Rational 360, an advocacy and public affairs firm in Washington.
  • "It's probably a natural evolution as an industry matures, but it will make the process more cumbersome and it will also allow competitors to see how you are targeting audiences," says Rob Collins, partner at the public affairs firm S-3 Group and former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The details: They're unclear. Advertisers are assuming — but don't know for sure — that the rules apply to all "political" ads, meaning all cause and appeal messages from trade associations, coalitions, corporate lobbying shops, etc., or simply ads that advocate for the election of a candidate to political office.

They're are also unsure of exactly how Facebook will technically manage uploading tens of thousands of ads to Facebook pages per day. For ad buyers that test thousands of different ad iterations per day, they worry Facebook may not technically have the bandwidth at this time to display all of those ads on a single Facebook page.

Other advertisers are working to respond to the newly-announced limits to targeting terms on the platform, and trying to figure out how to reroute their campaigns. Most say they are confident that Facebook will eventually reinstate an updated version of its old structure, once it's completed once it has reviewed the terms in its system..

"Facebook still has the best targeting options and I wouldn't be surprised if they figure a way to bring a lot of that back," says Matt DeLuca, a consultant with over a decade of political ad buying experience at Edelman and AARP. Earlier this year DeLuca reported KKK targets on the platform after trying to exclude alt-right users from a clients' ad campaign and says Facebook had "removed most of them but not all."

Go deeper

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

3 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.

4 hours ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.