Meta, formerly known as Facebook, says it will begin testing new content tools designed to give advertisers control over where their ads are shown on Facebook and Instagram feeds, the company announced on Thursday. The tools will allow companies to prevent their ads from being placed next to unsuitable content, such as posts about politics, tragedy or violence.
The company will begin testing the new content controls in the second half of this year and plans to officially roll them out in early 2023. Meta says it will primarily focus on English-speaking markets for the testing phase. Over the course of the next year, Meta will expand the controls to include ads placed within stories, video feeds, Instagram’s explore page and more. Meta also plans to eventually expand the controls to additional languages.
“Across Meta, we are designing suitability controls to give advertisers control over where their ads are shown,” Meta said in a blog post about the announcement. “We previously announced our commitment to build content-based suitability controls to address concerns that advertisers have of their ads appearing adjacent to content that is not suitable for their brand preferences. We have been working closely with GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) as we develop these controls, which will be aligned with the GARM Suitability Framework.”
Meta also announced that it’s partnering with Zefr, a platform that enables companies to measure brand suitability, to monitor and report the context in which ads appear on Facebook. The company will work to verify that ads only appear next to suitable content. Meta and Zefr will begin small-scale testing in the third quarter of this year.
The new tools will be Meta’s response to growing demands from advertisers who have repeatedly asked for more control over their ad placements online in order to ensure they aren’t displayed next to unfavorable content.
The company has worked to address these concerns in the past.
In November, Meta said it would expand News Feed controls for advertisers that run ads in English and give them access to “Topic Exclusion Controls.” The three topics are news and politics, social issues, and crime and tragedy. When an advertiser selects one of these topics, their ad will not be shown to people who have recently engaged with these topics. At the time, Meta had said it’s aware that this tool may not address all of the concerns that advertisers have and promised to develop content-based controls in the future.
Facebook’s algorithms are notorious for promoting inflammatory content and dangerous misinformation. Given that, Meta is under mounting regulatory pressure to clean up the platform and make its practices more transparent. The modern news cycle and online advertising landscape has made it difficult for brands to avoid having their ads placed next to unsuitable content. Since most companies purchase ads by creating an ad and submitting it to Meta’s ad auction, they don’t have control over ad placement, but these upcoming tools should change that.