On June 28, 2018, Facebook announced their new “Info and Ads” section on all Facebook pages. This section allows Facebook users to see which ads a page is running in specific companies.

Facebook Info and Ads

Facebook claims the release of this tool was to ,“bring more transparency to ads and Pages on Facebook.” I beg to differ…

First, a little bit of context…

Social media networks have been under fire as their users began realize just how much data has been collected. The granular targeting that was great for advertisers stirred up a commotion amongst social media users who wondered how the heck Facebook knew their interests so well.

Social media sites are working frantically to regain the trust of their users. Facebook claims that the new “Info and Ads” feature contributes to this goal by allowing users to see how different companies advertise. I would argue that it was actually released so Facebook could generate more revenue from ads.

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Stick with me here.

Consumers have never been interested in which specific ads a company is running. All they know is that they want less ads.

Disagree? When has a consumer ever researched which ads a company is running? There have been free tools like Moat and SEMRush (free version) to see which display and search ads companies are running. As a diligent marketer, if you had to guess the demographic of these ad spy tools, you’d likely come to the conclusion that it’s 99% digital marketers.

Using common sense alone, it’s clear that Facebook has an ulterior motive for this new feature.

Why Facebook Really Released the “Info and Ads” Tool

First, let’s agree to call the “Info and Ads” tool what it really is: an ad spy tool. It’s core functionality is no different than AdBeat, AdPlexity, SEMRush or any other tool digital marketers use to analyze their competitors’ marketing strategies. In fact, there have been similar Facebook Ads spy tools with paid subscriptions.

Marketers use ad spy tools to analyze competitor campaigns before launching their own. The second part of this process is the relevant part because new campaign launches lead to increased revenue for Facebook. If Facebook can provide advertisers with better analytics tools and features that allow marketers to feel like they have an “edge,” they will see an increase in ad spend.

Let’s use a simple example. A garage repair company is hesitant about using Facebook advertising. They’re not sure if its effective or sustainable. All of a sudden, they can see what their competitors are doing and discover that their top competitor has been using Facebook Ads for the past year. They’ve uncovered the competitor’s secret weapon AND they can see the exact ads the competitor is running.

What’s the logical next step? Start a Facebook Advertising campaign.

Marketers do this all of the time. If you want to start a Google advertising campaign, you research some competitors, see where they’ve found success, and replicate the process.

The “Info and Ads” tool was created as a revenue-booster under the guise of an effort to increase transparency.

The Counterargument

I proposed that the “Info and Ads” tool was intended to make Facebook Ads more appealing for new advertisers, but there’s a flip side to that coin. What about all of the existing advertisers? Will advertisers start pulling their campaigns?

There’s definitely an argument to be made here. Advertisers are likely to be upset about the fact that their competitors can steal their hard work with a few clicks. The question is – what can these advertisers really do?

Realistically, there is nothing they can do.

If you’re allocating a large part of your advertising budget to Facebook Ads, there’s no alternative channel to move your ad spend to. Facebook is lightyears ahead of competing social networks and search advertising is a different ballpark.

If you were spending millions of dollars on Facebook Ads with a positive ROI, would you pull your campaigns just because competitors can see what you’re doing? Of course not. That would be like avoiding Google Ads because competitors can spy on your campaigns with tools like SEMRush.

The “Info and Ads” tool may have given away part of companies’ competitive edges, but pulling ads from Facebook altogether would undoubtedly lead to a drop in revenue.

Certain companies have become stealthier by advertising under non-branded pages, but the majority of advertisers will carry on with business as usual.

What To Do Next

Advertisers will likely carry on with business as usual. The “Info and Ads” tool may shine light on parts of companies’ strategies, but successful ad campaigns rely on more than ad copy alone.

As social media networks continue to succumb to consumer outrage, this is actually one of the best outcomes. Marketers now have access to a free Facebook Ads spy tool that provides helpful data and can lead to more effective advertising.