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Facebook Launches Ad Campaign to Defend Personalized Advertising Ahead of Apple Privacy Change

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  • Facebook is launching a new ad campaign called "Good Ideas Deserve to be Found," which makes a case for personalized advertising.
  • The company says the campaign is meant to "help people understand how the personalized ads they see help them discover new things they love, and support businesses in their community."
  • It comes as Apple's privacy changes draw near, which will impact personalized advertising on Apple devices.

Facebook is continuing its very public defense of personalized advertising with a new ad campaign called "Good Ideas Deserve to be Found." 

The company says the campaign is meant to "help people understand how the personalized ads they see help them discover new things they love, and support businesses in their community." It will appear on TV, radio and digital platforms starting Thursday. 

Facebook executives said the initiative is meant to support small businesses that are struggling during the pandemic.

But Facebook has another motive: Apple is making a change to the iPhone that's expected to upend the mobile advertising sector, making it harder for advertisers to target ads to mobile phones and track their performance. The change will essentially take a privacy option for users to share their advertising ID, or "IDFA," that was previously buried deep in users' phones and put it front and center when they open an app. The change is expected to hurt Facebook's business as soon as this quarter, the company warned in a recent earnings report.

Facebook executives have been publicly decrying Apple's change for months. Facebook even launched a print ad campaign late last year arguing that the change will harm small businesses, and suggesting online content makers will have to turn to subscriptions to replace lost ad revenue, forcing users to pay for what once was free.

When Apple's changes go into effect in early spring, Facebook will begin showing a prompt to encourage users to share their information. The company started testing prompts last month that say Facebook uses that information to "provide a better ads experience."

The new advertising campaign is partly designed to spur users to say "yes" to this prompt.

Facebook's head of company marketing Andrew Stirk said the company's research found that 47% of small businesses fear they won't survive the next six months, or are unsure how long they will stay afloat as the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have devastated everything from retailers to restaurants.

But he said that Apple's changes "add some urgency to this," he said. 

"The goal is to help people understand the role that personalized ads play for small businesses, for their ability to grow and thrive, and also the role they play in helping discover ideas that might not otherwise exist, that they might not otherwise find," he told CNBC in an interview this week. 

What the new campaign entails

The campaign will run for 12 weeks on and off Facebook's platforms. It includes TV spots done with agency Droga5, directed by David Wilson and voiced by Grace Jones. They feature real businesses and include the phrase, "And yet for every big idea that rose to wild acclaim, there are so many more that never found their fame."

The TV spots end with the text "Good ideas deserve to be found. Personalized Ads help you find them."

"We want to make sure that [small businesses] are aware of the tools that we're providing, and make that experience as positive as possible," Stirk said. "And then for consumers, we want to drive awareness of the role personalized ads play for small businesses and the ability to discover ideas." 

The company said it's giving more information on how personalized ads work on dashboards on Facebook and Instagram, and that ads for the campaign will drive to those hubs. On Facebook, businesses will be able to post with the hashtag #DeserveToBeFound, and on Instagram there will be a sticker with similar text.

Facebook said it's also trying to make it easier for small businesses to get started marketing. The company is waiving certain fees for businesses that use Facebook's online shopping platform through at least June of this year, and for paid events through at least August. 

Annette Njau, whose lifestyle brand House of Takura is featured in the campaign, joined Facebook executives on a briefing call. She said personalized advertising in its current form helps her advertise like a larger company, but is afraid Apple's IDFA change will impact that.

"I'm not Louis Vuitton, or Chanel, right now ... We can't just blindly throw away money," she said. "So what Facebook did with ads, it leveled the playing field for us." 

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