Meta Makes Changes to Marketing Strategy Amid Scandals

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After the societal media elephantine auditioned agencies to negociate its advertisement budget, underscoring its Madison Avenue ties, Spark Foundry won the business.

An advertisement for Facebook successful  Los Angeles.
Credit...Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

Tiffany HsuDavey Alba

Nov. 2, 2021, 5:48 p.m. ET

Since the spring, the societal media institution formerly known arsenic Facebook has been evaluating wherever it advertises and however overmuch it spends doing so, taking pitches from agencies that privation to assistance negociate its tremendous selling budget.

The alleged media reappraisal — the archetypal for Meta, the new genitor institution sanction for Facebook and its sister apps Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger — concluded connected Tuesday erstwhile it chose the Spark Foundry bureau arsenic its caller planetary readying and buying partner.

Spark Foundry, owned by the French advertisement elephantine Publicis, volition grip “strategic thought leadership, media innovation, readying and investment, cross-channel approaches, tools, tech and operations,” Lisa Stratton, a spokeswoman for Meta, said successful an email. The planetary agency, which replaces the societal network’s erstwhile media partners, Dentsu and Mindshare, besides precocious won concern from the quality retailer Clarins and the automaker Toyota. The determination does not impact Meta’s originative strategy.

Meta made the alteration aft a seven-month review, during which it came nether aggravated nationalist scrutiny from damaging revelations astir its concern practices and its apps’ effects connected teenagers, fueled by the whistle-blower Frances Haugen, a erstwhile employee.

Even arsenic the societal level grappled with the scandals, large advertisement companies presented pitches for what would beryllium an particularly high-profile client. Meta shelled retired astir $3.6 cardinal connected selling and income successful the astir caller quarter, 32 percent much than a twelvemonth earlier. Winning the Meta relationship offered agencies entree to the societal media behemoth’s heavy pockets and sizable influence.

The concern underscores Madison Avenue’s codependence connected Meta. Most of the advertizing manufacture is either already successful concern with the institution oregon hopes to be, usually by placing ads connected its platforms oregon placing ads for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger connected different platforms.

Last month, Meta said it earned 97 percent of its revenue, oregon $28.3 billion, by selling advertisement abstraction successful the astir caller quarter. Advertising Week, a caller manufacture conference, featured panels presented by Meta, which has besides sponsored events for the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Meta employees beryllium connected the boards of manufacture commercialized groups specified arsenic the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the American Advertising Federation.

The advertisement manufacture spawned Facebook and is “the hidden manus down each the appalling Facebook headlines,” but has remained mostly circumspect astir the company, wrote Bob Hoffman, a seasoned of the business, successful his Ad Contrarian newsletter past month. “While the remainder of the satellite is nauseated by Facebook’s activities, the manufacture that has the deepest transportation to it, and has the astir to lose, is ours. And yet … crickets.”

Bob Liodice, the main enforcement of the ANA, said successful an email that the radical took marque information concerns earnestly but that its members “are liable for making their ain concern choices to find the suitability of a circumstantial level oregon media conveyance for their marque building.”

The IAB did not respond to a petition for comment. The American Association of Advertising Agencies said it would proceed to code issues related to ensuring a harmless and transparent ecosystem.

But 1 company, the outdoor apparel and instrumentality seller Patagonia, said it had stopped each paid advertizing connected Meta’s platforms past twelvemonth due to the fact that of marque information issues.

“The interior Facebook documents released implicit the past fewer weeks person made it incredibly wide that they cognize the irreparable harm that their deficiency of accountability causes their 3 cardinal users and the corrosive effects that has connected nine itself,” Ryan Gellert, Patagonia’s main executive, said successful an emailed statement.

Meta, similar galore different companies, works with some originative agencies, which assistance plan and nutrient selling campaigns, and with media agencies, which assistance find wherever the ads go. It has relationships with astir each of the modern advertisement industry, which is made up mostly of six ample holding companies — Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP — which power a constellation of subsidiary agencies. Meta besides works with consulting companies similar Accenture, which person bought up agencies successful caller years, and immoderate autarkic shops.


On the originative side, Droga5, owned by Accenture, helps Meta trade firm messaging and created videos for the company timed to the Olympics. BBDO, owned by Omnicom, does selling campaigns for WhatsApp and the main Facebook app. Johannes Leonardo, which is partially owned by WPP, took implicit Instagram enactment from Ogilvy this spring. Meta besides has an interior team, known arsenic Creative X, moving connected marketing.

Wieden+Kennedy, an autarkic bureau based successful Portland, was liable for the wide Facebook marque and created the company’s commercialized for the 2020 Super Bowl. But during a large-scale boycott of the societal web past twelvemonth by advertisers upset with the platform’s argumentation astir hatred speech, Colleen DeCourcy, Wieden+Kennedy’s main originative officer, said the concern “created a batch of hard conversations wrong the agency.”

Asked successful Time magazine whether she expected Facebook to beryllium a lawsuit successful 2021, she said: “If I was a betting person? I wouldn’t enactment excessively galore of my dollars connected that space.”

A Wieden+Kennedy spokeswoman said the bureau was nary longer moving with Meta and that they parted ways successful the archetypal fractional of the year.

Since it started spending successful earnest connected selling successful 2014, Facebook had entrusted its media fund to Dentsu and Mindshare, an bureau owned by WPP. It began its media reappraisal successful April, moving with the absorption consulting steadfast ID Comms, a matchmaker of sorts that besides oversaw reviews this twelvemonth for Hershey’s and T-Mobile.

Meta required participating agencies to hold to restrictive declaration presumption earlier allowing them to determination guardant to assorted fund readying and buying exercises, said 2 radical with cognition of the negotiations who were not authorized to talk publicly. Meta declined to remark connected the process.

As Meta’s troubles mounted, employees astatine immoderate of the agencies protested the thought having the institution arsenic a client, the radical said.

In July, Mindshare removed itself from the societal network’s media review, which was conducted virtually. Meta took Havas, different advertisement giant, retired of the moving past month. Publicis’ Spark Foundry won the transportation implicit its last rival, Dentsu.

“We person a agelong bequest of starring brands done translation and look guardant to moving with Meta connected the adjacent improvement of their business,” said Sarah Kramer, the main enforcement of Spark Foundry US, successful a statement.

Mindshare, Dentsu and Havas did not instantly person a comment. GroupM, which runs Mindshare, declined to comment.

Meta has besides grappled with complaints astir mistreating the advertisement industry. Ms. Haugen, the whistle-blower, testified that the institution had misled advertisers astir its efforts to fortify its level against harmful contented and has tried to artifact efforts to excavate information astir governmental ads.

The existent trial of Madison Avenue’s patience with Meta volition beryllium connected the company’s popularity with users, said Blake Droesch, an expert with eMarketer, connected a caller podcast from the probe firm.

“Users leaving Facebook is the lone happening that would marque advertisers permission Facebook,” helium said.

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