Entering text into the input field will update the search result below

Who Will Win When Facebook Advertisers Flee?

Karen Webster profile picture
Karen Webster


  • P&G and Unilever, among others, have already voted with their pocketbooks and put digital platforms like Facebook and YouTube on notice, suggesting they'll be back when they're satisfied changes have been made.
  • In the meantime, they said, they'll divert their ad spend to strong digital alternatives consumers like and trust. Today that's Amazon and Google Search, among others.
  • If Facebook doesn't invest in algorithmic, artificial intelligence-based methods for cleaning up platforms, excluding bad actors from the community, ad dollars will flee to Google Search and Amazon.

Procter & Gamble (PG) made headlines last week when its Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, confirmed that the world's largest advertiser cut $200 million of digital advertising spend in the last nine months of 2017. That year, P&G's ad spend totaled $7.1 billion.

That wasn't the big news.

The big news was Pritchard's blunt admission that the reduction in spend had no impact on the performance of P&G's business.

In fact, he characterized much of that digital ad spend as "largely wasteful."

Among those who lost big - 20 to 50 percent of their budgets - were Facebook (FB) and YouTube, although Pritchard didn't name them.

He didn't have to.

He, on behalf of P&G, took a very public stance on brand safety last year when the consumer brand giant discovered advertisements for its products on YouTube were placed next to questionable and inappropriate content. Consequently, the company pulled its advertising, spawning a digital media audit that revealed something else: Some digital platforms weren't bringing the right eyeballs to P&G's products.

Or, more precisely, eyeballs, to those ads.

Pritchard said one of the reasons eliminating $200 million in digital ad spend didn't hurt its business was because too many ads were being "seen" by bots that couldn't buy or influence anyone - and not by real consumers who can and do buy products. Transparency with respect to metrics and measurement is essential, he said, before he and his team can determine the value of those platforms in P&G's advertising mix and engage in a meaningful way.

So is platform governance and trust.

The ability for a brand to be placed that can capture and monetize consumer intent, not simply the content the consumer - or a bot pretending to be one - may be looking at, is crucial, which makes platforms that can not only deliver real

This article was written by

Karen Webster profile picture
Karen Webster is one of the world’s leading experts on emerging payments and a strategic advisor to CEOs and Boards of multinational players in the payments and commerce space. As the CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, she works extensively with the most innovative players in the payments, financial services, mobile, B2B, digital media and technology sectors to identify, ignite and monetize innovation. Ms. Webster also serves as a member of the board for several emerging companies and helps these innovators develop and implement business strategies that drive market adoption for their products and services.

Recommended For You

Comments (94)

JH is a long time, FB "perma bear" from way, WAY back when FB stock traded in the $30's.
- He's missed a +400% run-up in FB stock, by sticking to his bearish stance; so, you now know the kind of animus that's driving the intensity of his opinion.
Justin Hohn profile picture
Many of us who foresaw FB becoming the next MySpace were lambasted here on SA. In the short run, of course, we were wrong, as $75 share price has come and is long, long gone.

The problems that FB are endemic to a social network. And just as in real life, people change their socialization patterns when they see them as low-value. If our real friends acted like our FB "friends" did-- i.e., posting fake news links, low-rent memes, and the same tired web content again and again-- we'd no longer hang out with them.

Our real friends we want to go out to eat with, see a movie with, and do life with. Doing FB isn't doing life. Millenials are learning this and have largely already left. Mostly it's older people now left on FB.

FB will continue as an investment zombie for quite awhile, there's too much money propping it up. But the seeds of its irrelevance have already germinated.
Can you show not me where MySpace ever garnered revenue via advertising? Were they ahead of the curve by buying other viable companies like Instagram and what’s up to keep up with and stomp the competition? These same tired arguments have been made well before $75 a share. Investors like you simply missed the boat here. I don’t expect the pps to move up as fast at it has in the past but it will continue to be a growth stock for many years to come.
jef.holtmyer profile picture
In todays world fake news is everywhere. Lets be honest fake news has always been among us. Today it is just that much easier to call it out.
Todays fake news is however being driven by the perception of the term fake in many, not at all "ALL", cases. Just because there is a news report that brings out only part of the facts, it is not fake news. We must keep in mind that everyone that writes a press report or reports an on site news story on TV, is putting their personally motivated angle on that story. Even if we agree with the angle being reported, it is still just an angle on the over arching story. When later a book is written or a movie is made, there is bias in that book and movie. The reader will spin what they read, the TV audience will see what they want to see and the movie goer will get an in-depth reasoning to support their opinion on the issue. Most that go to the movie will not even perceive that just because the movie is rated as fiction that it could be, after all it was based on a true story.
This is why the grapevine communications path will rarely keep the content of the message correct, even in lines of only three people. Humans being human is ninety percent of the problem, in my opinion. Yes there are those out right lying to our face in every day life. And it is because of those lies that we have a tendency to relive the horrors of history. Even teaching history is full of fallacies because teachers tend to teach from books with the political slant that they also believe in. This only compounds the issues.
Keep in mind that I have a Facebook account but I care so little that my wife have the admin writes to it. I also purposely will not buy from a company that has an ad on a site that I go to. Yes I keep track of the ads, even those I like, and will not buy from those places for 30 days. I am just plain tired of the ads personally.
Glen Rivard profile picture
Jef, FB and Google but are enjoying incredible growth. Might not like ads but they are just part of life in a capitalist world.

Google fastest growing aspect of their business is actually their non-ad businesses. But would expect their ad business to continue to enjoy really strong growth.

Also think with Google having the most valuable data there is they will start targeting ads on YouTube TV which has a ton of potential.


Now we get the Turner channels including CNN and also MLB and NBA were added with the old pricing until March 13. Then everyone signed up will be grandfathered and keep the old pricing so basically get CNN for free.
sfpdf profile picture
Investors, repeat after me: we are in the initial innings of advertising shifting from all media to the internet (comments on cord cutting and declining Oscars viewership above are on point, as would be the NFL's declining ratings). While a lot can change within this group, the biggest current beneficiaries are FB and GOOGL, IMO in that order. FB's micro-targeting algos are important, but even more important, IMO, is just eyeball time on the site (and its sib Instagram). I'm skeptical about AMZN taking a big chunk of this; after all, how do you take in advertising revenues on a site which exists solely to sell goods already? Maybe MTCH, BKNG, IACI or even NFLX can grab a good chunk of this, or maybe it will be a company which doesn't even exist, but advertisers and FB will find a way to make this work as long extraordinary numbers of people keep spending extraordinary amounts of time on the site.

Long FB and GOOG/L
"I'm skeptical about AMZN taking a big chunk of this; after all, how do you take in advertising revenues on a site which exists solely to sell goods already?"

what? that's precisely the reason! business/brands want to advertise where people go to shop, where people spend lots of time looking for products, comparing products. 55% of online shoppers start their product search on amazon. do you get it now?
sfpdf profile picture
You entirely miss my point. AMZN has succeeded precisely because it hasn't taken positions among the companies whose merchandise it sells on its website. How will Clorox feel when P&G ads trumpet its products superiority?

Do you get it now?
You didn't get it, did you?
Let's try again:

Amazon will private label soaps, detergents and diapers real soon. They have the retail channel to do so. The Brain Trust at Procter & Gamble can spend their money on Amazon search and may have to. They probably would prefer to use Facebook for advertising than feed their competitor.
Kayode Omotosho profile picture
I agree with your observations. However, Facebook campaigns are so cheap on a CPC basis that bot traffic can easily be overlooked.
06 Mar. 2018
The author is missing a very important point. What advertisers are fleeing fare traditional advertising outputs like TV and print. What customers are fleeing from are businesses like P&G and Nestle. To rely on them to understand the future is is like rely on Fox News to understand the state of the world.
Yes they should watch CNN instead...
googlefan profile picture
it is completely laughable that there are "analysts" out there that think that Facebook is a platform to run ads for products like Ariel and Always. although companies like P&G thinking that Facebook is a platform for their brands is even worse.... nobody is interested in these type of ads whatever the platform. So to this analyst: congratulations for the great analysis !🙁
Kayode Omotosho profile picture
Actually, Facebook does work for Ariel & Always.
EnterUserNameHere profile picture
This article is just about as dumb as the one you wrote up on April of 2017 when you compared FB to MySpace. FB isn't going anywhere even with all of the current negative talk it has barely even affected the stock. Not even doing to mention everything else FB is working on
P&G/Unilever and Karen Webster are having such a breakdown over FB! They would never protest The Make Believe News from MSNBC, CNN, The Washington Post WHOPPERS and The N.Y. Times MISREPRESENTATIONS..... And there’s more, much more.
Username89 - There's a great invention called tin foil and its cheap. Its makes great hats. You should probably buy some and make one to wear each and every day. They keep brain beetles away also.
Glen Rivard profile picture
Did see Google is taking share from FB for referrals.

Shareaholic: Search overtook social for referral traffic in 2017 as Google passed Facebook


Plus Google is taking product search share from Amazon.

Search engines are weakening Amazon’s hold on product search (AMZN, GOOGL, GOOG)”


But the biggest news was yesterday was that Uber is considering a relationship with Google. So to me Google is firing on all cylinders.
Again with your Goog bias, LOLLLL

You demonstrate that you don’t know what s Search Engine does!

What else than refering traffic to a website a Search Engine.

Stop being ridiculous!!
Ops clicked without noticing: “a Search Engine does”
Glen Rivard profile picture
Alfred, Not following? Google has taken the top referral position away from FB.

Is this NOT a good thing for Google?

But then the biggest news I have heard in a very, very, very long time happen yesterday. Google is rumored in talks with Uber to be their SDC supplier.

That would be beyond huge for Google.
toh192 profile picture
I was under the impression facebook decided to boost numbers artifically. They now claim the ads were in fact viewed by bots? *facepalm*
06 Mar. 2018
You mean what display advertising has been doing for decades, led by Google products?
galicianova profile picture
i would use "if" in the title rather than "when"
Argument makes no sense. Keyword based intent search on amazon and Google is fixed. You can only spend in relation to demand that already exists, you can’t create new demand. These huge brands have to spend budget to create demand and that forces them to spend outside of Google and Amazon on places like FB. Huge bluff by these brands because FB ads, even if served to a few bots, is still way better than the alternatives.
I spend 75% more time on FB than Amazon or Google. From my perspective it would be a waste of money to move their advertising dollars to those platforms.
This woman IS ALWAYS WRONG about FB.

Just read her articles and you figure it out.
06 Mar. 2018
You have obviously never worked in this industry. FB is killing both Google and Amazon in delivering, what you refer to intent buying, performance campaigns. It has something Google Search and Amazon does not, Discovery at scale and buyer intent in one platform.
Glen Rivard profile picture
Eapour, Do not agree. Only Google has the action based advertising. But more importantly only Google has the most valuable data.

I love this video that really lays out why Google is in just a better position then FB. Now bullish also on FB but think Google is better positioned long term.

06 Mar. 2018
Agree that as a data source, yes, Google is better placed atm. Love that video and the book btw. Incredible read. It’s not correct that only Google has actioned based advertising. FB has had it for a long time and I use it everyday. It’s much more effective than Google Search or GDN and has more scale. Also, there is no doubt in my mind that FB will win the advertising war against Google. Why? Well the digital ad spend started as performance and lower funnel activity. That’s why everybody shifted so much into it. Last couple of years, it has moved from purely performance to awareness and discovery and from browser to apps. Google hasn’t had a major play in that space and it has fed FB revenue significantly. Google has YouTube but that’s also very well monetized and doesn’t have the same level of growth as FB assets. 2. Google has ran out of ideas. They are sitting on $50b in cash that is eroding against inflation. Their product is two decades old and still counts for significant amount of revenue. They don’t sell a product of the future anymore and such, growth will be restrained. 3. They miss HUGE trends in consumer behavior; they missed social (Insta was in their boardroom, they said no. Kevin left one year later and sold to FB), they are trailing voice to Amazon by about 2-3 years and Amazon will always have a stronger proposition as they can connect the intent to purchase. Google can only be an intermediary. 3, where is the Dark Social play? Messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat? They have nothing in this space. 4, Project X is not coming up with a sustainable model of revenue diversification that it was meant to do. Time will tell on Wayne. 5, FB owns 4 out of the 10 most used apps and they are all almost > 1billion users each. 5, Google is Microsoft 2.0 and moves much slower than FB. Any new idea, FB can bring to market faster. 6, Sergei has checked out and lives the billionaire dream and Larry’s focus is only Ai (that’s why he started Alphabet). 7, Google will most probably move into Martech and Hardware. I sold Google last year. Nothing impressed me by them anymore. Sun passed midday long time ago
Glen Rivard profile picture
Ea,. If watched the video you can see Google has much better data then FB or anyone.

Do not think Google has run out of ideas and keeps doing just amazing things. AlphaGo is the most advanced of anyone and done a decade earlier than anyone thought possible.

So many other things. Spanner is amazing. But the biggest for Google is Waymo.

btw, hard to read your post. You need some white space. Like FB just like Google and Amazon more. But FB far better then Apple that has zero grwth and peaked three years ago.
06 Mar. 2018
The ambition of the author outweighs her talent. To make a case based on what P&G thinks? Clearly misses the point that FB’s ambition is not social media. They are preparing themselves to be the mobile operating system in the West similar to WeChat in China. They have a proven profit generating business and haven’t yet maximized its huge, unique, non threatened user base. They have over 100k developers on hand to kill any threat that would pop up, think Snapchat. Facebook will be a trillion dollar business in less than 24 months. Screenshot this message. You’re welcome! Buy now and buy big.
I'm always fascinated by the opinions of Americans who are completely brainwashed by their propaganda mills (mainstream press). You can either laugh or bang your head on the desk when you read an article like this. Whatever else you do, don't let it keep you from making easy money. Every year the amount spent on digital advertising grows by billions and billions of dollars. Who benefits? Basically two companies: google and facebook. Who has been growing revenue and profits at a much faster rate? Facebook. An interesting story would be how Amazon is now making billions from online advertising (since until recently we considered online advertising a google-facebook duopoly).
Writing about how the company that owns practically every brand of soap, toothpaste and dishwashing liquid that dominates the marketplace did not lose revenue by cutting advertising is not exactly giving us an accurate picture. I will not exactly start making my own toothpaste or switch to another brand because I did not see an ad from P&G on facebook in the last couple of weeks or months or years.
Writing about the Russians and their interference in your elections and how they compromise Facebook's integrity is precious. I mean we need the laughs. The military security complex attempt to vilify the Russians is right up there with other American propaganda gems like:
1. We found Saddam...in a hole in the ground. he was hiding in a hole in the ground.
2. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, his soldiers first priority was to go into Kuwait's hospitals and take new born babies off respirators. (they should have added that Saddam's soldiers would then eat the babies).
Look, we get that the business of America is war, we recall a certain republican president warning us about the military industrial complex becoming too powerful on his way out of office almost 60 years ago. We know the military security complex needs enemies. But don't let that stand in the way of your stock market profits.
Like another reader above stated LONG FB AND AMZN
Great article. And intersesting. But ibelieve the manajer wotk to fix it
FB long for at least 10 years.
Disagree with this article? Submit your own. To report a factual error in this article, . Your feedback matters to us!
To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.