Ubaid Zargar
Points of View

'Off-Facebook Activity' tool: boon or bane for marketers?

Facebook has announced a new tool for its users. The feature, 'Off-Facebook Activity' enables users to manage their data and monitor how the company traces them across the internet. We reached out to industry experts to know if this will have any implications for marketers.

The last few years have not been easy for global tech giant Facebook. From Cambridge Analytica to data-deals with device manufacturers, Facebook has been plagued by controversies that have kept the company on its guard.

Having had its fair share of legal cases and open scrutiny, Facebook has time and again been put on the defensive, especially with how it handles user data. Having allowed third parties to benefit from personal data of platform users, the company has come under fire many times, but most of its scandals weren't even detected by the lay consumer. Now however, the social media juggernaut has announced some plans to curb the pandemic of criticism.

Just last week, Facebook announced that the company had halted its plans of bringing advertisements to WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned encrypted messaging service. And now, Facebook has rolled out a long-promised tool designed to curtail privacy concerns and data-manipulation. The tool, 'Off-Facebook Activity', helps users to manage how Facebook tracks them across the internet.The new feature was first announced last August, and was initially tested in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain. However, chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg announced in a blog post this week that Off-Facebook Activity will now be available worldwide.

Essentially, Facebook users can now monitor, and in some cases restrict Facebook from tracing their internet activities. Consequently, users can now even manage the targeted ads they encounter on the platform. From the looks of it, the overly-anticipated move by Facebook does seem to be a step in the right direction. However, the user controlled digital space can have implications on marketing methods and targeting strategies. So, is the Off-Facebook Activity tool a boon or a bane for marketers?

Here is what industry experts think.

Krishnarao Buddha, senior category head -marketing, Parle Products

'Off-Facebook Activity' tool: boon or bane for marketers?

The data-driven campaigning techniques of 2012 US presidential elections had enabled analytics team to score each and every US voter on multiple dimensions. These scores gauged audience sentiments, likelihood of positive decision making and to influence audience. Leakage of such sensitive data led to introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, to protect personal data.

As a responsible corporate, I would like to state that Privacy Checkup tool is not only a boon for marketers but for end consumers as well. There were huge concerns by Facebook users over privacy breach. However, this tool will ensure enough and more data privacy for users while providing an option to share data with marketers as well. It is a welcome feature as marketers can now ethically consume and utilize insights for business purposes.

Shruti Samant, head of digital marketing for the health vertical of a leading FMCG company

'Off-Facebook Activity' tool: boon or bane for marketers?

What has become most important in digital marketing nowadays is how results can be achieved ethically, keeping the consumer as focus of campaign, not just in construct but while advertising as well.

This newly introduced feature by Facebook is a boon for marketers. Not only will we be able to respect the privacy of the consumer, but it will declutter the visual noise created on digital media, thereby gaining a valuable response from consumers with an increased attention span, which otherwise often gets diluted.

If the consumer is interested in viewing your ad, it gets easier to convert his mere interest to a purchase. Such a two way consumer interaction could lead to getting a lot of loyal customers liking your brand as well. Respect given is respect gained. Be it life or marketing.

Chintan Soni, general manager, Madison Media Digital

'Off-Facebook Activity' tool: boon or bane for marketers?

'Data Privacy, Data Security, GDPR' - these words started popping up since the time of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica incident. While Facebook Audience network enables advertisers to show ads outside FB and tracks user activity on these partner apps, this new feature by FB allows users to opt out of getting tracked on any FB-associated apps. I think it’ll have negligible impact on advertisers as not more than five to six per cent of the total FB audience are generated from these alliances.

Gautam Mehra, chief data officer (South Asia), Dentsu Aegis Network and chief executive officer, DAN Programmatic

'Off-Facebook Activity' tool: boon or bane for marketers?

It's early days. Google has released tools in the past that also help to minimise web activity tracking and so has Facebook. This is a step in the right direction from the consumer privacy point of view. First party data and signals are what data in 2020 and beyond is going to be for marketers and the faster we all get there, the better. So all in all, I don't see this having a negative impact for advertisers and marketers.