Will financial services join in with the Facebook advertising boycott?

John Empson
Media Executive

The advertising world has begun a debate on the direction of its moral compass, withthe Facebook advertising boycott. But for financial firms, there isn’t an awfullot to boycott in the first place.

Facebookand Twitter offer the cheapest way to access a mass-market audience, with theability to use generic segmenting to hone the audience down by age, gender,demographic, and interests.

But the debateis raging about whether or not to withdraw support from social media platforms,when those platforms, and Facebook particularly, have turned a blind eye to thepromotion of hate speech and extreme content, at a time when unity andcollective action matter most.

Bigcompanies like Pfizer, Microsoft, and Starbucks have all joined the boycott sofar. All three were in the list Facebook’s top 25 advertisers, while huge conglomeratessuch as Proctor and Gamble have announced a comprehensive review into advertisingchannels.

Thisportends more damage on the horizon for Facebook. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbergseems defiant, believing this to be a small bump in the road for the socialmedia giant. He believes big spenders will be back soon enough.

But is heright? CCM have considered how the reaction in Financial Services will unfold.

Awell-known truth of financial services advertising is that as a sector we are constantlyplaying catchup with the latest marketing best practices. Facebook and socialmedia have been no different. While there has definitely been an uptick ondirect-to-consumer wealth management campaigns on social channels, largeamounts of advertising budgets still goes direct to publishing houses, with thetrend only recently shifting.

The debate,and potential boycott we may see from financial services firms, will in part bedown to uncontrollable elements running alongside advertising. Any remotelycontroversial content risks raising big red flags for financial firms lookingto keep a clean image.

Financialfirms already lag behind in the use of programmatic advertising, and the riskof toxic content is not going to help make a change. This is only fueledfurther by the Facebook ad boycott.

Advisersstill prefer to receive PDF’s, video material, video calls (Zoom etc.), andpodcasts over social media updates, a recent study conducted by Research inFinance, friends of CCM for many years, has highlighted. It found only 12 %prefer to receive relevant comms through social media updates.

This sametrend is evident when looking at how advisers like to receive communicationsfrom sales contacts. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are the ‘favored channel’for only 0-3% of those surveyed.

With thisnew information on asset managers and their limited use of social media, therolling Facebook debate will be much less of a problem for B2B, the main impactwill be on mass market D2C companies and investment platforms.  

But with afew high-profile companies pulling budget, and a general industry reluctance totrust Facebook’s advertising, spends remains low compared to other sectorsanyway. Especially with CCM’s clients, there is very little budget to pull.