The Facebook Monopoly

Once you’ve developed a creative strategy, written a brief, got a concept and sold it in… there’s still plenty to be done. The next stage is a comms strategy – finding the best way to spread your idea to the right people through the right channels. More often than not, you do this with media.

And it’s rare these days to see a media plan which doesn’t include Facebook. Facebook’s revenue grew 62% in the US last year. Between them and Google, they receive 85 cents of every $1 in digital growth.

Which is problematic when it doesn’t work.

The above error message is what a client of mine saw the day they went to push a major campaign live. No context, no means to solve and no help anywhere online. Especially not on launch day.

This is a pretty standard level of service. Facebook are notorious for giving little support unless you spend big each month. If you do manage to track someone down, there’s usually nothing they can do except escalate, whatever that means. And conversations with online support yield little, to a point where you wonder if you’re talking to a bot.

In the end there was nothing to be done except for my client to wait it out. Six days later it was fixed. And the only reason they knew was because we were checking daily, not because we were notified.

That’s six days a client wasn’t able to be in market. Six days of opportunity missed and sunk production and resource costs.

With any other media owner, it would be completely unacceptable. You’d remove them from all future media plans. At the very least they’d work with you and your client to make the rectify the problem, or give bonus value. You’d definitely get a response to your emails.

More than ever media owners need to do everything they can to win and keep your media custom. (Although to be fair some of them are hopeless too. Last week I reached out to two sales reps for a client looking to spend $50k with each of them. Neither got back to me.)

The sad part is, despite the huge fuck up, Facebook’s monopoly means they’ll still be on the media plan next time. Probably with a 62% increase in budget.

Unfortunately I’m yet to see a brave media planner tell a client they’ve removed Facebook because it’s not in the industry’s best interest long term. And margins are so thin it’s in the agency’s best interest to avoid fragmentation anyway.

We’ve shifted an awful amount of spend and therefore power to Facebook and Google. And in doing so we’ve painted ourselves into the corner of a seller’s market. Which is very problematic, but no one seems too worried because we’re losing our ability to think long term.

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