Facebook says that it will soon begin testing advanced advertiser topic exclusion controls which will enable businesses to stop their ads appearing next to certain topics in the News Feed, based on their brand suitability preferences.
As explained by Facebook:
"We are planning to test a solution that will allow an advertiser to select a topic, like 'Crime and Tragedy'. That selection would help define how we’ll show the ad on Facebook, including News Feed. For example, a children’s toy company may want to avoid content related to a new crime show, so they could select the “Crime and Tragedy” topic."
To be clear, Facebook already offers similar exclusion tools for some of its ad products. Last September, for example, Facebook added new exclusions which enable advertisers to prevent their ads from being shown in video uploads related to chosen topics.
As you can see here, Facebook currently offers exclusions for 'news', 'politics', 'gaming', and 'religious and spiritual' content for video campaigns. This new test relates to a whole different set of categories, and for content that appears within user News Feeds, which is a far more complex placement solution, given the variability and personalization of the surface.
Given those complexities, Facebook anticipates that testing will take some time.
"This product development as well as testing and learning in News Feed will take much of the year. These are new controls, and it’s important we build them with safeguards to protect people’s privacy as we continue to move forward."
It's an interesting proposal, though one which, you would expect, will be difficult to fully implement.
But with increased concerns around the usage of Facebook to, say, mobilize civil unrest, it makes sense for the platform to explore new ways to provide additional controls for brands, in order to help them avoid potential negative placement and association.
At present, the new controls are only being trialed with a small set of advertisers. We'll keep you updated on any progress.