With the next wave of EU data privacy laws kicking in, Meta’s developing a new set of options for EU users only that would enable them to opt out of personalized ads, while the company’s also considering banning political ads in Europe entirely, as it works to bring itself into line with the updated rules.
The first element would enable EU users to restrict their ad targeting exposure to broad categories only, like age and general location, which could reduce the effectiveness of Facebook and IG ads in the market.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
“Users who wish to opt out would have to submit an online form objecting to Meta’s use of their in-app activity for ads, and the company would then evaluate any user’s objection before implementing the change.”
That, at least in theory, would enable Meta to remain in line with the new EU regulations around personalized ad targeting, which it’s already fallen foul of in the past.
Back in January, Meta was fined $US414 million for illegally forcing users to accept personalized ads in its apps. The ruling suggests that Meta requires individual consent from every single user in order to serve them personalized ads, which Meta says that it has obtained, via clauses built into its user agreement. But EU regulators say that this is not clear enough, which has forced the company into this latest reassessment of its process.
To be clear, Meta is still appealing the January ruling, and it’s confident that it can present an argument that it is, in fact, adhering to these laws. But as of right now, it needs to update its systems, or risk more fines for related breaches.
Which could also force it into more drastic measures, like banning all political ads entirely across Europe.
Another element of the EU’s evolving digital advertising rules relates to political promotions specifically, and providing full data on who and how each campaign is funded. Meta’s raised concerns that the definitions of this new element are unclear, which could make it difficult for the company to comply with such – so the alternative may be to eliminate political ads entirely, and avoid any potential headaches.
That would have significant implications for political operators in the region, who are likely to pressure regulators to update the laws. But if they go unchanged, that could have big implications for Meta’s broader ads ecosystem in the market, while also reducing ad intake, at a time when the company needs to maintain it.
It’s a significant stand-off for Zuck and Co., which could lead to major policy changes, in line with Europe’s ever-evolving data privacy laws. Already, virtually every website has been forced to make changes because of EU regulations, and now, some may even have to cut off ad options entirely, due to the same.
In some ways, that makes sense, given the rising concerns around data usage and control, and providing people with more options to manage their digital presence. But in others, it’s heavy-handed and may cause more harm than good to the EU market.
But the regulations are what they are, and Meta, along with every other platform, will now need to fall into line - which could have big implications for marketers looking to reach European audiences.