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Is Facebook Advertising Safe for Retailers?

The news about Facebook and its issues with Cambridge Analytica has been widely reported, with Facebook coming under intense scrutiny and fire for the perceived inadequacy of its privacy controls that enabled the now defunct British consulting firm to harvest and use Facebook user data to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Specifically, users and lawmakers had serious questions about the accessibility of personal profile and user data on the social network. As a result, Facebook implemented a long list of initial changes, in an attempt to show how it is enhancing data privacy.

But what does this mean for retailers and the consumers they want to reach and engage on Facebook? Should they still have data privacy concerns?

In this case, the short answer is no. The good news for retailers is that the vast majority of data used to create social ads on Facebook is not the data at issue. As long as retailers comply with the separate — but similarly infamous — EU GDPR guidelines, most retailers will experience little to no changes with their Facebook advertising.

So far, the efficacy of Facebook advertising as a whole hasn’t experienced any significant downturn. For now, the direct impact on retailers includes only the removal of third-party targeting options previously available through Facebook’s audience targeting user interface. Retailers who are nervous about that loss should rest easy: there are no planned changes to or issues with Facebook’s core targeting products, enabling businesses to continue to run effective, and secure, social ad campaigns.

So what does this all mean? Facebook advertising is still safe for retailers and the consumers they want to reach. And retailers shouldn’t shy away from using the site to reach their target audiences. Recent findings from Goldman Sachs revealed that the data scandal had very little impact on the social network’s traffic, with the company noting that Facebook’s U.S. unique users on mobile rose seven percent year-on-year to 188.6 million in April, when the scandal was in full force. Time spent on Facebook also went up.

Social advertising on Facebook can be extremely impactful for retailers, enabling them to attract more customers, build better relationships and drive more conversions. This recent scandal seems to be the latest in a storied history of claims around the demise of Facebook that ultimately turn out to be fruitless. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, nor are its users. And retailers shouldn’t be going anywhere either.

Jeff Cunning is VP of Pattern89, whose social advertising platform combines the power of artificial intelligence with campaign automation, along with industry benchmark data, to help brands discover the best content for paid social.
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