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Week In Review: Facebook Goes Transparent; Buzzfeed To Launch A TV-like Show On Twitter

1. Facebook Goes Transparent

As per our piece yesterday, Facebook is in PR hell this month, what with their admission that Russians had indeed been buying Facebook ads, the revelation that the Russians could have targeted self-described “Jew Haters” in their ad buys and the general sense of foreboding about “the duopoly” we keep hearing.

Plus tin-hat types are seeing some sort of uber-Machiavellian ploy by Zuckerberg who they claim planned this to eliminate the competition for is 2020 presidential run.

So there’s that.

In order to make things a bit less awful, Zuckerberg announced a plan to make the buying and selling of political ads more transparent, which would of course require the campaigns to reveal their strategies to each other (which might result in more money flowing to Facebook.). It also, as our friend CNN’s Brian Stetler pointed out, raises the question of “what exactly is a political ad and how does Facebook go about defining it?”

So there’s that too.

Why It Matters

With two billion users, everything Facebook does matters.

In this particular instance, it matters because Facebook’s ability to target users is unrivaled, at least until Amazon gets in the picture, and because Facebook is setting the tone for the future where microtargeting users will be the rule, not the exception.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a political consultant, you need to accept the fact that there are no more surprise strategies and hope that you can outspend (and out-target) your rivals.

If you’re a network or MVPD, you might start thinking about what your transparency policy for political ads is. Because the difference between addressable TV ads and targeted Facebook ads is mostly theoretical and pretty soon you’ll have Russians or Chinese or Saudis someone else who has a lot of money and their own self-interests at heart knocking at your door.


2. Buzzfeed To Launch A TV-like Show On Twitter

Buzzfeed is going to launch their first TV-like show next week, an indication that they may soon be following in the footsteps of Cheddar, Newsy and Vice and making their way to an actual television.

Or not.

Buzzfeed is going to be launching their new show on Twitter. Which is great for Twitter, but not great at all for Buzzfeed.

The Twitter thing just baffles us. We get that most media types are on Twitter and that it gets a lot of exposure because of that. (The guy in the White House and other politicians help too.)

But that’s about where it ends. Twitter has, by their own admission, only has around 300K monthly average users. Being kind, we’ll assume that 100K of those are bots and spam and another 50K are brand and corporate accounts and we won’t even count all the duplicate and triplicate accounts that power users maintain.

So figure 150,000 monthly average users on a good month.

Why It Matters

Buzzfeed may indeed be using Twitter as a place to test out their programming before they go big. Twitter = Peoria, to use an old theatrical analogy. Or they may foolishly think that just because all their friends are on Twitter that everyone else is too, including the president and most of Congress and just about every actor in Hollywood.

But if I’m an advertiser, I may not want to pay for such a limited set of eyeballs. Depending on what my product is, of course.

We’re hoping it is the Peoria scenario, because Buzzfeed would be a welcome addition to the TV landscape, and the more Buzzfeeds and Vicelands and Cheddars and Newsys there are on TV, the less alien it becomes to the next generation.

What You Need To Do About It

Not much you can do other that sit back and watch how it all plays out.

If you’re a struggling TV network and you’re looking to cash out, Buzzfeed might take your calls soon. If you’re an MVPD looking for a hook for your new vMVPD service, you should probably be making some phone calls too.

And if you’re Twitter … you should do whatever you can to capitalize on this opportunity. (That is, if you aren’t doing so already.)