Facebook’s topic exclusion controls test rolls out to more advertisers

Facebook’s topic exclusion controls test rolls out to more advertisers

In its early tests, advertisers were able to avoid appearing next to exclusion categories 94-99% of the time.

Facebook will soon expand its test of topic exclusion controls for ads in the News Feed to a limited number of advertisers that run ads in English, the company announced Thursday. First announced as a test in January 2021, topic exclusion controls allow advertisers to exclude ad delivery to users who have engaged with any of the following topics: “News and Politics,” “Social Issues” and “Crime & Tragedy.”

Why we care. If these controls roll out more widely, advertisers might feel more confident about brand safety on Facebook. The platform has been at the center of numerous controversies over its handling of misinformation and hate speech and may be falling out of favor, particularly with teenage users, which are projected to decrease by 45% over the next two years.

Creating a more brand-safe environment may help Facebook maintain revenue from ads. But, if it’s not able to modernize itself and compete with newer platforms, like TikTok, advertisers may eventually move to whichever social media platforms their audiences migrate to.

Early testing has been promising, according to Facebook. In Facebook’s early topic exclusion controls tests, it found that advertisers that:

  • Excluded the News and Politics categories were able to avoid News and Political adjacency 94% of the time.
  • Excluded the Tragedy and Conflict categories were able to avoid Tragedy and Conflict adjacency 99% of the time.
  • Excluded the Debated Social Issues categories were able to avoid Debated Social Issues adjacency 95% of the time.

More granular News Feed controls for users. Users are able to dictate whether they’re included in the three topic exclusion categories from their ad preferences menu.

The company is also testing new controls that enable users to adjust their News Feed ranking preferences. The customizations would enable users to increase or reduce the amount of content they see from their friends, family, Groups and Pages.

Looking into the future. “We see this product as a bridge between what we can offer today and where we hope to go — content-based controls,” Facebook said in the announcement, “We will soon begin exploring and testing a new content-based suitability control that will aim to address concerns advertisers have of their ads appearing in Facebook and Instagram feeds next to certain topics based on their brand suitability preferences.”

By the end of the year, the company also plans to work with third-party brand safety partners to develop a solution to verify whether content adjacent to an ad in News Feed aligns with a brand’s suitability preferences.

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