Facebook, Sky and Virgin Media look to tackle brand safety issues

Facebook is introducing new features that will give marketers more control over where their ads appear, while Sky and Virgin Media are partnering to offer what they hope will be an alternative to digital amid transparency and brand safety issues.

Facebook is looking to offer marketers more controls over where their ads appear outside its main social network as it reacts to concerns over brand safety and transparency in digital advertising.

The US tech giant says the changes over the next few months “go further” than before and will offer more transparency over where ads appear.

For the first time, advertisers will be able to see a list of where their ads could potentially deliver prior to setting a campaign live. Facebook is testing this with a select group of advertisers and the results will determine how the product will be rolled out and extended to all advertisers later this year.

Facebook is also making its block process easier, with advertisers now able to apply their block lists at the account level instead of having to login to each specific campaign or set of ads. The firm says this will help advertisers make their lists consistent across “potentially hundreds of campaigns and thousands of creatives”. This will be rolled out to its display service Audience Network and publisher solution Instant Articles next month, and to in-stream ads on Facebook later this year.

The company will also start to allow advertisers to specify the types of placements, such as in-stream, native or interstitial, that they want their video campaigns to run beside.

“As part of our commitment to businesses, we will continue to provide more transparency, controls and a premium experience across Audience Network, Instant Articles and in-stream ads on Facebook,” Facebook highlighted in a post released on its blog.

The move is just the latest attempt by Facebook to improve transparency. The social network has come under fire in the past after it admitted last year that it had discovered a number of errors in the way it measures audiences across a range of its products. This included overstating how long users watch videos for on its site.

READ MORE: Facebook defends metrics errors as it puts focus on transparency

In response to criticism the company expanded its focus on viewability and transparency and renamed its blog Measurement FYI, which now includes updates on metrics, partnerships, products and research.

James Chandler, CMO at the IAB UK, is broadly supportive of Facebook’s latest moves and believes the industry should be doing everything it can to tackle transparency issues.

“We encourage and welcome industry change that tackles pressing issues – like transparency – head on and promotes better digital advertising that not only gives advertisers greater control over how and where their messages run to achieve effective viewability, engagement and eliminate budget waste, but ultimately makes for a better consumer experience,” Chandler tells Marketing Week.

ISBA, the trade organisation that represents marketers, has also “welcomed” the updates which it hopes will deliver “greater transparency and more control for advertisers”.

Separately, Sky and Virgin Media have also made a play for marketers ad budgets, signing a strategic partnership that aims to accelerate brand safe targeted TV advertising. The deal, the two claim, will give marketers access to more than 30 million targetable TV viewers in the UK and Ireland and intends to provide impactful targeted TV ad campaigns, underpinned by intelligent data.

The partnership covers both targeted linear and video-on-demand TV advertising, by using technology developed by Virgin Media’s parent company, Liberty Global, along with Sky Media’s AdSmart technology.

“We’re giving consumers advertising that is more relevant to them and giving brands a trusted destination to deliver intelligent, tailored TV campaigns to a targeted audience,” Pat Kiely, Virgin Media solutions executive lead, explains.