- Facebook has issued a request for proposals to multiple ad agencies in the past few weeks, according to a report from Business Insider.
- The RFPs ask agencies to deliver messaging around making Facebook seem like an innovation company, particularly in fields like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
- While there is no direct mention in the RFPs of the scrutiny Facebook faces for its role in disseminating ads and content created by a Russian troll farm with the intent of influencing last year’s presidential election, sources cited by Business Insider said the timing of the marketing push suggests there is a connection.
Facebook may be looking to get ahead of any feelings of negativity towards the platform caused by the Russian problem and a growing reputation for copying the features of newcomers like Snapchat rather than innovating on its own by pointing to its shiny objects via a new marketing strategy.
Once upon a time, Facebook was seen as an innovative newcomer, which translated to strong growth rates and a sense of excitement around the platform. However, a series of issues have come to light in the past year that have dinged Facebook's reputation as its size and scope continue to increase, raising concerns around privacy and influence.
The issue of Russian advertising in the last election is a problem for Facebook, Google, Twitter and other digital ad platforms because, while not very likely, Congress could pass legislation with teeth that would severely cut into online political advertising. According to a recent report from Kantar, the problem has also hurt social media's reputation as a trusted source for news.
Russian ads have put a spotlight on a broader issue faced by Facebook, namely that marketers and regulators increasingly see a problem with the lack of transparency into when and where ads are served on Facebook and who is buying those ads. Facebook is trying to address the issue of transparency by making it possible for users to see who bought any ad, a capability that is expected to arrive in the U.S. next summer. It is also looking at making metrics clearer.
Facebook is by far the largest social media platform and bolsters its significant role in consumers' digital experiences with Instagram as another social media platform along with the messaging apps Messenger and WhatsApp. It made a huge bet with VR tech through the acquisition of Oculus, and it’s working to find its way in a world where social media platforms are simply part of most people’s lives. A company representative told Business Insider said the RFPs are part of an ongoing effort to help people understand what it does.