Changes to Facebook Advertising After Cambridge Analytica

Changes to Facebook Advertising After Cambridge Analytica

What's Happening with Usage, Advertising and Data Privacy

Table of Contents

It’s been nearly three months since the Cambridge Analytica revelations. We share what’s changed—and what hasn’t—about how users and advertisers feel about Facebook.

  • Users continue to express heightened concern about privacy, but few appear to have deleted their profiles. Facebook reported softness in user metrics in North America for Q1, but this was unlikely to be related to data privacy concerns.
  • Facebook’s many recent crises—data privacy, fake news, Russian meddling, unsafe content—are negatively impacting users’ perceptions of the platform, a trend which bears further watching.
  • In light of the above, we have moderated our growth forecast for time spent on Facebook among US adult users. We estimate they will spend an average of 42 minutes per day on Facebook, up 1.8% from 2017. That’s slower than the growth of 3.6% and 6.0% in the previous two years.
  • Facebook is making changes to its ad targeting products. On the user side, new features such as the ability to clear Facebook browsing history will impact some marketers’ ability to measure and analyze traffic to and from Facebook.
  • The largest concern right now relates to ad targeting, including the value of first-party vs. third-party data, and the ways marketers will be able to source third-party data going forward.
  • Advertisers appear to be holding steady on Q2 Facebook spending. However, some are using this as an opportunity to reevaluate how they use Facebook (and how much they use Facebook) going forward.
  • Advertisers are taking fresh looks at other social platforms, as well as non-social properties like Amazon. But at this point, there are few indications that significant spending will shift away from Facebook.

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Debra Aho Williamson