Major Advertisers are Pulling their Facebook Campaigns — Including Mozilla, Sonos & Commerzbank

Mozilla blog post officially announcing a 'pause' on Facebook advertising.
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Mozilla blog post officially announcing a 'pause' on Facebook advertising.
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Mozilla blog post officially announcing a ‘pause’ on Facebook advertising.

Facebook’s privacy scandal is now affecting its advertising revenue.  As of this morning, four major advertisers have suspended their campaigns.  Others are threatening similar action.

Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘apology tour’ seems to be having little impact on Facebook’s mounting privacy crisis.  Ahead of the weekend, a number of major advertisers quietly pulled their Facebook campaigns.

One of the first departures came from the music industry.  Sonos, a manufacturer of wifi-connected smart speaker systems, decided to suspend its Facebook campaign because of serious concerns over user privacy.  “We are concerned by the recent revelations about Facebook and the exploitation of its platform,” the company announced last Friday.  “We believe that all people have the right to know how their data is being collected and used, and that each of us in the technology sector has an obligation to honor the commitments we make to our customers’ privacy.”

Incidentally, Sonos was being touted by Facebook as a marquee advertiser.  Donna Queza, head of social media advertising at Sonos, is quoted on the Facebook Business page as saying: “We’ve been impressed with Facebook and Instagram as a full-funnel advertising platform for our brand.”

+ March 25th: Breaking: Sonos Is Pulling All Of Its Advertising from Facebook — Effective Immediately

But Sonos wasn’t the first advertiser to remove their ads.

Mozilla, best known for overseeing the Firefox browser, also decided to ‘press pause’.  “Mozilla is pressing pause on our Facebook advertising,” the company announced.  “Facebook knows a great deal about their two billion users — perhaps more intimate information than any other company does.”

“When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.”

Now, we’re learning that other advertisers are also taking swift action.  That includes Germany’s second-largest bank, Commerzbank.  “We are pausing our campaign on Facebook,” Commerzbank’s head of brand strategy Uwe Hellmann told German publication Handelsblatt over the weekend.  “Brand safety and data security are very important to us.”

Pep Boys is also taking a break from the social network.  “We are concerned about the issues surrounding Facebook and have decided to suspend all media on the platform until the facts are out and corrective actions have been taken,” Pep Boys’ chief marketing officer, Danielle Porto Mohn, offered in a statement.

What Steve Jobs Said About Protecting User Privacy In 2010

And those are just the advertisers that have publicly announced their pullouts.

Indeed, other advertisers may be quietly pulling their spots, while taking a wait-and-see attitude on Facebook’s radioactive situation.

British ad council ISBA has not advised a pullout for its member — yet — but they are calling Facebook’s situation ‘deeply disturbing’.  The group is apparently meeting with Zuckerberg and other top executives at the social network.  “We want reassurances for our members that it will get to the bottom of the issues and any implications for the public and for advertisers,” ISBA stated.

Apart from accusations of manipulating the U.S. Presidential Election of 2016 by abusing user data, Facebook also faces accusations of veering public opinion on Brexit.  Indeed, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO has been suspended after bragging about throwing the election to Trump — with illegally-obtained personal data.

Here’s the Entire Facebook Contract for Music Publishers & Songwriters

In that context, advertising agency M&C Saatchi Worldwide has also expressed serious reservations.  “Make no mistake, Facebook is an amazing medium from the advertisers’ point of view because of the accuracy of its targeting, which comes from data,” M&C Saatchi CEO David Kershaw told the BBC last week.  “But I think those large companies are now very nervous to be associated with a medium where the data is being abused, particularly in a political context.”

M&C Saatchi has handled advertising for some of the largest brands in the world, including BMW, Converse, and De Beers.

More as this develops.



3 Responses

  1. Roy Perez

    To be honest, they were probably overpaying for Facebook Advertising, anyway. And Facebook Ads will be just fine with all the Mom & Pop shops springing up on the FB Ad Platform, nowadays. FB Ads are cheap and they work, so the big guys leaving won’t

  2. Roy Perez

    To be honest, they were probably overpaying for Facebook Advertising, anyway. And Facebook Ads will be just fine with all the Mom & Pop shops springing up on the FB Ad Platform, nowadays. FB Ads are cheap and they work, so the big guys leaving won’t matter.

  3. Lest it be overlooked...

    At first blush, this may not appear to be the most relevant article to make this post, but as Facebook and Spotify have been joined to the hip for many years like two peas in an ipod, and as there is a link to the Facebook contract for music publishers and artists, among other things, I thought, as there has been much debate on issues such as reproduction and distribution as of late, and as there is a Spotify direct listing looming in the not to distant future and as Spotify has presumptively been “authorized” by music publishers and/or record labels to [use imagine here] … as I am vehemently opposed to such, I thought, why not.

    I previously made a post that is germane to this particular post in the DMN article: “YouTube Is Going to Repeatedly Stuff Ads In Yout Face Until You Pay.” This post is also relevant to the discussion in the DMN article “This Is How Distribution Companies Are Stealing Artists’ YouTube Revenues…” tweeted yesterday by DMN.

    In New York Times Co. v. Tasini, 533 U.S. 483 (2001), a copyright case concerning the rights of freelance authors and a presumptive privilege of their publishers, the Supreme Court agreeing with the Court of Appeals that the Publishers are liable for infringement, elucidated, among other things, the following:

    “The freelance authors’ complaint alleged that their copyrights had been infringed by the inclusion of their articles in the databases. The publishers, in response, relied on the privilege of reproduction and distribution accorded them by 201(c) of the Copyright Act, which provides:

    ‘Copyright in each separate contribution to a collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective as a whole, and vests initially in the author of the contribution. In the absence of an express transfer of the copyright or of any rights under it, the owner of copyright in the collective work is presumed to have acquired only the privilege of reproducing and distributing the contribution as part of that particular collective work, and any later collective work in the same series.’ 17 U.S.C. 201(c).

    Specifically, the publishers maintained that, as copyright owners of collective works, i.e., the original print publications, they had merely exercised ‘the privilege’ 201(c) accords them to ‘reproduc[e] and distribut[e]’ the author’s discretely copyrighted contribution.

    In agreement with the Second Circuit, we hold that 201(c) does not authorize the copying at issue here. The publishers are not sheltered by 201(c), we conclude, because the databases reproduce and distribute articles standing alone and not in context, not ‘as part of that particular collective work ‘to which the author contributed, ‘as part of … any revision’ thereof, or ‘as part of … any later collective work in the same series.’ Both the print publishers and the electronic publishers, we rule, have infringed the copyrights of the freelance authors.

    The Publishers press an analogy between the Databases, on the one hand, and microfilm and microfiche, on the other. We find the analogy wanting. Microforms typically contain continuous photographic reproductions of a periodical in the medium of miniaturized film. Accordingly, articles appear on the microforms, writ very small, in precisely the position in which the articles appeared in the newspaper. The Times, for example, printed the beginning of Blakely’s ‘Remembering Jane’ Article on the film in the very same position within a film reproduction of the entire Magazine, in turn within a reproduction of the entire September 23, 1990, edition. True, the microfilm roll contains multiple editions, and the microfilm user can adjust the machine lens to focus only on the Article, to the exclusion of surrounding material. Nonetheless, the user first encounters the Article in context. In the Databases, by contrast, the Articles appear disconnected from their original context. In NEXIS and NYTO, the user sees the ‘Jane’ Article apart even from the remainder of page 26. In GPO, the user sees the Article within the context of page 26, but clear of the context of page 25 or page 27, the rest of the Magazine, or the remainder of the day’s newspaper. In short, unlike microforms, the Databases do not perceptibly reproduce articles as part of the collective work to which the author contributed or as any part of any ‘revision’ thereof. [10]

    [10] The Court of Appeals concluded NEXIS was infringing partly because that Database did ‘almost nothing to preserve the copyrightable aspects of the [Print] Publishers’ collective works,’ i.e., their original ‘selection, coordination, and arrangement.’ 206 F.3d 161, 168 (CA 1999). We do not pass on this issue. It suffices to hold that the Databases do not contain ‘revisions’ of the Print Publishers’ works ‘as part of’ which Articles are reproduced and distributed.

    Invoking the concept of ‘media neutrality,’ the Publishers urge that the ‘transfer of a work between media’ does not alte[r] the character of’ that work for copyright purposes. Brief for Petitioners 23. That is indeed true. See 17 U.S.C. 102(a)(copyright protection subsists in original works ‘fixed in any tangible medium of expression’). But unlike the conversion of newsprint to microfilm, the transfer of articles to the Databases does not represent a mere conversion of intact periodicals (or revisions of periodicals) from one medium to another. The Databases offer users individual articles, not intact periodicals. In this case, media neutrality should protect the Authors’ rights in the individual Articles to the extent those Articles are now presented individually, outside the collective work context, within the Databases’ new media.”

    It doesn’t take any great stretch of the imagination to realize the import of the above to matters of collective works. For example, for many a decade songs were grouped into collective works styled “albums.” These albums included things such as album art, artist or group photography, track listings (usually numbered), song lyrics, recording artist (performer) credits, songwriting credits, engineer and producer credits, music publisher/record label credits and branding. These albums (collective works) were reproduced, packaged, distributed and sold as such.

    It is noteworthy that musical compositions, including any accompanying words, if any, are also collective works, sometimes referred to as “joint works.

    As I am unsure whether or not this will fit into one posting, I will end this particular post at this point; however, as Spotify reportedly intends to proceed with the direct listing in a matter of days, I thought it prudent to call attention to this issue as it certainly appears that there are still significant outstanding issues that the potential investors should be made aware of. Moreover, though the above case dealt with freelance authors, in addition to such, there are those who “create” independently; for the sake of brevity, there certainly appears that there are reasonable grounds for further litigation concerning Spotify, the music publishers and the record labels.