Dark ads, or dark posts, sound kind of ominous. But as you browse through your personal News Feed on Facebook, you’ve seen them—a lot of them. What are they? They are highly-targeted advertisements from brands and businesses that show up only on select News Feeds, and nowhere else.
So, if a candle company was looking to sell candles to the Cumberland County region, to women age 45 and older, who make $35,000 or more, that company would create an ad and, through Facebook, show it to only that people who fit that specific criteria. You, the typical Facebook user, wouldn’t know of, or see, any of a brand’s other dark ads unless you were included in the segment that they were targeting. But that’s about to change.
A few months ago, Facebook officials announced that everyone will be able to see what dark ads were being served by each and every advertiser. By this summer, “people will be able to click “View Ads” on a Page and view ads a Page is running on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, whether or not the person viewing is in the intended target audience for the ad.” That according to Facebook’s official announcement.
What does this mean for you? More transparency and more honesty. This change is going to force brands and businesses who advertise on Facebook to be more upfront in their advertising practices, which, ultimately, benefits the consumer. The process is currently being tested in Canada before the complete roll out this summer.
In addition to brand and business ads, Facebook will also show users current and historical federal election-related ads in a rolling four-year period. So, while companies are put on notice, so are politicians, lobbyists, and political organizations.
These are the first steps of what we can assume to be many in keeping advertising and its influence on social media in check. We, as consumers, just need to utilize the tools that have been given to us.