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Facebook is bringing augmented reality ads to the News Feed

July 10, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Facebook is now testing augmented reality ads in its News Feed, the company announced today at an event in New York City. The new feature, which is limited to users in the US at launch, will let you virtually try on items including fashion accessories, cosmetics, furniture and more. The goal here, of course, is to help you visualize what a product looks like on you, or around your physical environment, before you buy it. Michael Kors is the first brand to have AR Ads in the News Feed, where it is going to allow people to browse different sunglasses, use the camera to “put them on” and then buy a pair if they like it — all within an ad.

Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Facebook’s VP of product marketing, said that the idea with AR Ads is to have new ways to take shoppers from product discovery to shopping instantly.


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Twitter's Ad Transparency Center shows you who pays for ads

June 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Twitter just announced a new Ads Transparency Center (ATC), a new way to help you identify who is advertising on the social media service. Similar to Facebook’s View Ads, set to launch this week (as well as a new change to active Page ads), Twitter’s transparency tools will let users search for and see who is buying ads, with even more detail on US federal political campaign ads that includes billing information, ad spend, impression data, and demographic targeting data.

To find ads from any advertiser, all you need to do is search the Ads Transparency Center for the specific user handle you’re looking for, and it will show you all the ad campaigns run in the last seven days from that user. You don’t even have to have a Twitter account to access the Transparency Center. The company will also add a visual badge and disclaimer information on any ads for US federal political campaigns. Twitter says it will launch a more specific policy for issue ads in the future, and plans to enhance the center itself.

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Facebook is showing users all the ads a Page could serve

June 28, 2018 — by Engadget.com0


A day after it was reported that Facebook was getting ready to launch new ad transparency tools globally, the company is now making a major change to Pages. Starting today, people will be able to see any active ads running on a Page across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, even if they’re not being served to them specifically. On Facebook’s site, you can go to a Page and you’ll see a new “Info and Ads” button, which you can click to get information like when it was created, name history and see all the ads it has served since day one. If you notice anything suspicious, like a dubious political ad, you can then report it. Facebook says it’ll be adding more Page information in the coming weeks.

In addition to these transparency tools, Facebook is also bringing its new political ad disclosures to Brazil ahead of the country’s general election in July. The company launched this “Paid for by” tool in May and will make anyone running political ads register their content, which will then be labeled and put into a digital archive that users can search. They’ll get details about the ad including budget and audience demographics, such as age, gender and location, among other key information.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said that the company has realized it underinvested in being more transparent, after its site was exploited by bad actors looking to interfere in elections in the US and other parts of the world. She said that, for the past 10-12 years, Facebook was mostly focused on on building social experiences, but now the goal is to work on better transparency across the board. Not just when it comes to ads on Facebook, but also by sharing numbers on diversity and other important matters like response rate to government requests. “What transparency does is hold us accountable,” Sandberg told a group of reporters on Thursday.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only social media giant trying to accomplish this. Earlier today, Twitter announced its Ad Transparency Center, which shows users who pays for ads on the site and lets them search it for anyone who’s distributing paid content, political or otherwise. For Facebook, Sandberg said the changes to Pages and Active ads are just the latest steps it’s taking to let people known exactly what they’re being exposed to, and there will be more to come in the near future.

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Facebook's new ad transparency tools will reportedly launch this week

June 27, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Last October, Facebook announced that it would start requiring advertisers to disclose their identities when purchasing space on the social network. Now, according to a report at Politico, the company is going global with the feature this week in a tool called “View Ads.” The system was set to go live in Canada last year, and the database has been live since May; this will expand the on-site availability to the rest of the world.

With 10 million people seeing Russian-placed political ads, Facebook is doing what it can to fight undue influence through ad buys. It has also pledged to hand-review new ads that target politics and race. Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, Joel Kaplan, confirmed the View Ads feature and release date to a small group of reporters in Brussels, says Politico. It will let users pay more attention to how special interest groups use Facebook for their own ends.

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Facebook lifts its ban on crypotcurrency ads

June 26, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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At the end of January, Facebook banned any advertisements promoting cryptocurrencies because they are “frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” the company wrote in a blog post. Now the platform has softened its position and will permit ads involving cryptocurrencies, but only from advertisers who have been approved by Facebook after a vetting process. Even then, ads about binary options an initial coin offerings are still prohibited, at least for now.

Prospective advertisers must submit an application (available here), including disclosing any licenses they have, whether they’re traded on a public stock exchange and other background info that might be relevant to posting cryptocurrency ads. But this, too, may change based on feedback Facebook receives, the company’s product management director Rob Leathern wrote in a blog post.

When reached for comment, Facebook confirmed to Engadget that this was not a ‘reversal’ but an update to its January ad policy change, which it promised to revisit at the time. But it also reflects a mellower mood on cryptocurrency than at the beginning of the year, when bitcoin was in the middle of a free-fall from its December high water valuation over $19,000. Now it’s rested at just over $6,000 (as of this writing), and in the interim, Facebook even started considering its own coin. It remains to be seen whether Twitter and Google will also relax their stances on banning cryptocurrency ads.

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Facebook is placing autoplay video ads inside Messenger

June 20, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Facebook previously admitted that it’s running out of places for ads in the News Feed, which doesn’t sound good for a company making billions of dollars from them. To solve that issue, the social network turned to its other apps and properties — last year, for instance, it started testing static ads within Messenger. Now, 1 Hacker Way is taking things a step further by putting video ads inside its chat application, which will even start playing as you scroll. The company told Quartz that the new ad category will start appearing within its chat app for a small set set of users on Monday, June 25th.

It sounds like more people will eventually be graced with video ads’ presence, as well, because a spokesperson told Quartz that Facebook “will be rolling out video ads gradually and thoughtfully.” The company will make people who “use Messenger each month” its top targets and promises that “they will remain in control of their experience.” Not in total control, though, because while they can hide or report an ad, as well as manage their targeting preferences, they can’t opt out of seeing them altogether.

As you can imagine, it can be awkward seeing an ad randomly play while you scroll through your messages, especially if they’re serious conversations. Messenger ad business head Stefanos Loukakos said, however, that the company doesn’t believe video ads will change the way people use the app.

He told Recode:

“Top priority for us is user experience,. So we don’t know yet [if these will work]. However, signs until now, when we tested basic ads, didn’t show any changes with how people used the platform or how many messages they send.

Video might be a bit different, but we don’t believe so.”

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Fox turns ad breaks into dramas in bid to fight ad skipping

June 17, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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There’s little doubt that TV’s commercial breaks are on the decline. How do you get people to watch ads in an era of ad-skipping DVRs and commercial-free streaming services like Netflix or Hulu? Fox Networks has an idea: turn ad time into mini dramas you might want to watch. Variety has learned that Fox will will start running Unbreakables, or short, sponsored films that highlight people who’ve overcome adversities like cancer. It’s hoping that they’ll be less disruptive than conventional ads while giving relevant brands (like insurers, pharmaceutical giants and sportswear makers) a chance at “storytelling.”

The material will range anywhere from an extremely short six seconds to long-form productions. They’ll appear on many of Fox’s conventional and digital outlets (including Fox Sports, National Geographic and FX) starting in the fall.

This isn’t the first time Fox has experimented with ways to revitalize the ad break. It has run five-second “pod punchers” designed to minimize the effect of DVR ad-skipping, and has occasionally run shows with fewer ads in hopes of removing the urge to skip ads or change the channel. The new format, however, indicates an added sense of urgency. They know many modern viewers will flee at even the slightest hint of a commercial — this theoretically keeps you invested for a while longer, even if you ultimately realize that it’s another sales pitch.

Whether or not it works isn’t clear. The sponsorship will have to come up at some point, and that may easily turn off wary viewers. And of course, this only works if you aren’t deep into ad-free viewing to begin with. If you’re a cord cutter who hasn’t watched conventional TV for months or years, this isn’t about to have you coming back. This may be most effective for viewers who are still paying for cable or satellite, but are frustrated enough with conventional ad breaks that they’re thinking of jumping ship.

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Google is helping users limit targeted ads

June 14, 2018 — by Engadget.com0


Facebook isn’t the only one offering tighter controls over ad privacy. Google has introduced a revamped Ad Settings that should make it easier to both learn how ads target you and, more importantly, to reduce that targeting. You now see all the ad targeting factors in one view, with both explanations of their presence and options to either turn them off or tweak the settings. You can’t completely disable ad targeting, but there’s enough here that you can limit it to highly generic factors like the site you’re visiting and the time of day.

When ads do pop up, you’ll also have a better explanation for their presence. The “why this ad?” link is now available on every service that shows Google ads, as well as ‘almost all” of the sites and apps that partner with Google on ads. If you’re scratching your head at a YouTube promo, you’ll know the reasoning behind its appearance and will have a quick way to tweak your settings if you’d rather not see that ad again.

The rework could be a helpful addition if you’re worried that Google’s ad targeting is a little too on the nose. It’s also a hedge against mounting pressure for Google to do more. The company has come under scrutiny multiple times for its approach to privacy as of late, and this could prove that it’s making a serious effort to address your concerns.

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Facebook won't exempt publishers from new political ad policy

June 13, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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If publishers think Facebook would give them an exemption from its new political ad disclosure policy, they have another thing coming. The social network’s Campbell Brown has rejected calls for publisher exemptions to the “paid for” label in a blog post, arguing that equal treatment is necessary to ensure the policy works. It would “go against our transparency efforts,” Brown said, and would be ripe for abuse. A “bad actor” could hide its identity by claiming to be a publisher, and news outlets can take definite political stances.

Brown also denied allegations that this was a “criticism or judgment” of publishers. It’s just meant to encourage “more informed consumption,” he said.

This isn’t likely to satisfy publishers who’ve seen their ads and promoted posts vanish and have sometimes turned to registering as political advertisers to get news stories into people’s feeds. However, they might get Facebook to change its mind regardless of how much they push for a special exemption. The company is determined to prevent election meddling, and has been willing to take drastic steps (such as blocking all foreign ads during Ireland’s referendum) to avoid even a hint of impropriety. The new disclosure policy is consistent with that take-no-chances attitude.

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Facebook tells advertisers to get consent for email and phone targeting

June 13, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Facebook has had no shortage of privacy debacles lately, and it’s taking steps to prevent another one before it starts. The company has instituted requirements for its Custom Audience advertising that, as of July 2nd, will tell them to ask permission for targeting ads based on contact info like email addresses and phone numbers. They’ll also have declare how they got that contact info (direct consent, partners or a mix of both).

You’ll have more control as a user. The “why am I seeing this?” link with each ad will show just who was responsible for the targeting information an whether or not your contact info was involved (say, an email subscription). If you object to a company using those methods, you can block their ads.

The system isn’t perfect, as it requires advertisers to tell the truth about where they got their info. It’s entirely possible that a company will simply lie about the origins in order to hawk their wares to customers. This at least creates a record of that deception, though, and may open the eyes of companies that didn’t realize they should get your explicit say-so.