Boycott or Not? The Facebook Conundrum

June 25, 2020

Would you want your brand associated with a social platform designed by the guy who created a website to rank the physical attractiveness of women? That’s the question many marketers have been grappling with recently and while both Facebook and Zuckerberg have matured since his dorm room days, the calls for advertiser boycotts are just another chapter in their dubious history. 

Facebook’s role in the 2016 US election has been well documented as has their facilitation of hate speech and the spread of misinformation, but it took the Trump campaign invoking nazi symbolism for the platform to finally take a stand. And too little, too late for many.

So what’s a brand to do? 

Instagram? It’s owned by Facebook and bought on the same ad platform. Next.

What about YouTube? It reaches almost everyone but only last year brands were boycotting over its inability to keep its most vulnerable viewers safe

Twitter has taken a more proactive approach by adding warning labels to Trump’s most dangerous outbursts but is also guilty when it comes to facilitating hate and harassment. 

How about Snapchat? Tik Tok? It depends if your audience is even there, for starters.

At DSA, our job is to recommend the most effective ways to reach audiences while being consistent with our and our client’s values. Every brand is different and ultimately it’s up to them to decide where their line in the sand is. Boycotts are great, but if it’s business as usual a month later was anything accomplished beyond a few boardroom high fives?

If you’re an ROI driven marketer then the chances are you’re investing in the top performing channels, and removing some will have a direct impact on your bottom line. If you’re more awareness focused there may be other ways to reach those same eyeballs effectively, but it’s hard to match the cost efficiency and targeting that social platforms offer. Doing the right thing can come at a cost.

But here’s the good news: there are thousands of great websites that depend on banner and video advertising to survive, and programmatic buying has made it possible to run across several effectively. Every dollar invested outside of the tech monopolies is a vote for the long term health of journalism and the web as we know it. 

If you want to take a bold stance and feel better about where your advertising dollars are going, we’d love to chat.