Facebook and Twitter now let you see anyone’s ads: Here’s what we found

What has changed

Both Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to let you see the ads any organization is running.

On June 28 Facebook announced that it is making key changes that allow any user to be able to view any ads that are currently active, for any page. Additionally, users can now see any changes that have been made to that page such as page creation date and changes to the page name. The official statement closes with the line “We’ll be adding more Page information in the coming weeks”.

Meanwhile, Twitter unveiled their Ads Transparency Center that was initially announced back in October. Again this gives users and marketers the ability to see any ads currently being run by any page. And while ad targeting isn’t displayed to users, Twitter is letting us see retweets and likes for any given post.

Why has this happened?

This is in response to increasing pressure being put on social networks to be more responsible for the ads served on their platform. One of the issues that drew particular attention to the issue was interference in the US presidential election by Russian companies using bots and adverts on Facebook and Twitter.

Where can you find this information?

For Facebook, just search for any page that you’d like to review, head down to the bottom of the vertical navigation in the left sidebar and you’ll see “Info and ads”. In the middle column of the page, you will now see all active ads for a page (we used our friends over at Moz for our example below). It is important to note that you can’t see historical or paused ads. By using the location drop down located just above the ads, we now have the ability to see which regions a page is targetting.

In some instances, you will see major brands appearing to run no ads at all. Take a look at Coca Cola’s Facebook page. It’s worth checking down in the bottom right, where Facebook is highlighting related pages that are running ad campaigns. To display the ads make sure you select a country from the dropdown menu once you’ve clicked through to the page.

To access this information over on Twitter, head to https://ads.twitter.com/transparency and use the Search advertisers function in the top right.

A good one to get you started is to search for “Facebook” where you’ll see they are currently running ads on Twitter. Weirdly, given the size of the Facebook advertising platform, we don’t see Twitter running ads over on Facebook.

What we found

With the excitement of being able to see ads that are currently live for major brands, political figures, charities and basically anyone, our consulting team couldn’t resist spending an hour digging around social media accounts. Here are some of the more interesting ones that we found:


Our immediate attention was drawn to US politics, and a quick review of the primary accounts linked to Donald Trump. Despite a lack of paid sponsorship on Twitter (here and here), we found the dig into his Facebook page relatively interesting. While we get an insight to his campaign messaging, we would love to have targeting layered over the top of this and to be completely useful and interesting the ability to see past and archived ads.. Maybe this will come soon.

One feature that Facebook is now enforced in the US is political content now has to declare who has paid for the ad alongside archiving ads with political content.

For our UK audience here’s what the two major parties have been up to: Labour have been running way more ads  (or ad variations) than the Conservatives. As of writing the UK hasn’t implemented the same guidelines as the US yet regarding flagging who has sponsored the posts.


We found nothing massively surprising in this vertical. Apple is focusing their advertising heavily on the European and Asian market and during our quick poke around at present doesn’t seem to be running ads from their main Facebook page, instead relying on Twitter for their ads.

Google is currently focusing their ads on promoting their Google Assistant and leveraging celebrity influencers in the campaigns including David Walliams, John Boyega and Katrina Johnson Thompson.


The final vertical we took a quick peek at was charities. We reviewed two major UK charities MacMillan Cancer (they don’t appear to be running any Twitter ads)  and Cancer Research UK (Facebook & Twitter). A few of our team have worked for charities before and have first-hand knowledge of how important paid advertising is. Nothing surprising here either as the main two charities leverage strong emotive storytelling within their awareness and fundraising campaigns.


Each retailer has a different target market and brand image, and so our team found comparing their ads pretty interesting. There seems to be a trend of retailers advertising more so on Facebook, probably due to the variety of ad type available on Facebook compared to those available on Twitter.

Impacts this might have

Intended impact

The idea behind this change is that the public has more transparency about what adverts an account is putting out, supposedly as a way of giving us more insight into the motivations and tactics of a specific account. The additional information being shared about political advertisers is quite clearly a way to make it harder for them to hide their motivations. That doesn’t just apply to foreign interests, but also to genuine, recognized parties that might not want the general public to know what tactics they are employing.

A key difference between online advertising and advertising in other mediums is it can be a lot harder from the outside to track and prove what is going on, online, particularly as platforms like Facebook allow you to set a limit on how many times an individual will see your ad. A misleading billboard or TV ad can be called out but it can be harder to detect a deceptive or damaging social ad campaign.

This principle doesn’t just apply to political advertisers, while non-political advertisers won’t have the veil pulled back to quite the same extent, the ads and landing pages they are using will become publicly searchable and, as a result, an easier subject of critique.

What our consulting team thinks about these changes

Dominic Woodman – I don’t think this will matter in partisan advertising

For big brands, this is undoubtedly going to give people more accountability. Adidas can’t easily spin up a shell account/page to run Adidas adverts. Seeing it and clicking through to it will immediately raise questions.

Who owns this page? What’s with the questionable targeting/messaging?  Oh look, most of the ads are for Adidas.

I’m not optimistic this will make a difference for political advertising however because accountability won’t work in the same way. Hyper-partisan pages which swing to one side or the other, like this defending the confederacy, I can’t imagine being shamed by having to show they’re targeting people with right-wing interests.

And if you were the Trump campaign and wanted to run a bunch of questionable ads and not be accountable? Just spin up a bunch of legitimate sounding political interest groups and have those run one ad at a time. It’ll be just as hard to monitor as it was in the previous election.

Facebook have talked about archiving political ads in their announcement, and while that will continue to shine a light on the unpleasant mess that is current political ads, people already know it (or they don’t care, and this won’t change their minds). The media has been pushing this line hard for months now.

Facebook is making moves to restrict the supply, rather than just monitor. They made an announcement back in April, about their move to restrict who is allowed to run political ads, but it definitely feels more targeted at curbing overseas influence than dealing with hyper-partisan ad targeting and even then the devil is in the details: what will count as an issue ad, how well will they identify people who don’t sign up for this process etc etc.

Currently, I’m still not super positive the changes will have much of an effect on political advertising,  but if anyone involved in that industry is reading this, I’d love to hear your take on it. Comment me plz.

Emily Potter – A PR stunt with few real consequences

The social media giants are unquestionably under a lot of pressure to address the public and government bodies’ concerns about lack of transparency in advertising and data collection, in addition to the role they have played in the spread of fake news. This new feature just feels to me like a bit of a PR stunt, rather than something adding anything of substantial value.

If Facebook and Twitter were providing the same level of information available on political advertisers for corporate advertising campaigns, then I’d be more inclined to feel something radical was happening. They’d never willingly do that though. These tools are the exact sort of thing that makes it look like they’re making big changes internally, without exposing controversial information that would truly change the landscape.

But more pressing than the public pressure Facebook, Twitter and the likes are under to demonstrate that they are working hard to address these problems, is the threat regulation places to their business models. They’re in an arms race to prove they can regulate themselves before government bodies impose strict regulations on them. Regulations that will inevitably constrict the growth they’ve seen over the past decade.

I’m in agreement that the “Wild West” era of technology and social media corporates is coming to a close, and these last-ditch efforts are not going to stop them from being confronted with the same sorts of regulations imposed on banks and other financial institutions following the 2008 financial crisis.  

They’ll survive though. Regulation on financial institutions has increased, but they still find new and innovative ways to increase their profitability. Tech will be no different. But it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Tim Allen – This creates a good opportunity for marketers to research competitors better

My immediate reaction to this news was positive. From an agency perspective and for anyone out there doing competitor research we are no longer locked into waiting to see ads to understand what our competitors are doing. I now have a wealth of new information and inspiration which can be applied to ads for both my clients and for Distilled.

The cynic in me feels that we either won’t have this tool very long, or it will quickly be abused, most likely the latter will cause the former to happen. But for now we should bask in the new insights we can get into our competitors and take the opportunity to look at what incredibly well-known brands, publishers and individuals are doing with their paid budget.

Robin Lord – This is one of the nice things I’m sure we can’t have

Facebook and Twitter are under a lot of pressure for ads on their platforms to be more accountable. As US Congress considers how to regulate the platforms, it’s understandable that the platforms want to show visible signs that they are breaking down barriers and letting us see how we’re being targeted politically or otherwise.

The problem is, the current climate is largely a response to people using the platform in unexpected ways. Facebook’s main defense during the Cambridge Analytica scandal was they didn’t realise the data was being used that way and – let’s be fair – not many accurately predicted the effectiveness of ad-based election interference.

There are some really nice aspects of these information centres, for instance, the Facebook active ad list tells you if the page name has been changed – which is some protection against pages getting approved for political ads, then changing its face regularly to send polarising ads in different directions. Opening up this data might allow for policing through transparency. However, it also offers a few opportunities for bad actors, a few that come to mind, from least problematic to most:

  • Reverse-engineering competitor conversion funnels by tracking adverts and landing pages
  • Scraping competitors ad copy to quickly generate competing ads
  • Creating a load of accounts to repeatedly report competitor ads (now those ads are much easier to find)
  • Grabbing competitors’ active social tracking codes and landing pages by following the ads, then using them to send realistic-looking fake traffic and conversions – more effectively throwing off their spend
  • Targeting the same demographics as a political party and sending more extreme versions of the same messages to polarise their supporter-base.

This might be a good way for the platforms to show willing but allowing unfettered access to this data may not be the clean fix it seems to be. Where we see a page that doesn’t seem to have any ads running – is that insight into a current lack of activity, or a sign that already some of the bigger brands in competitive industries have turned off ads until they can find a better way to cloak against competitors?

To paraphrase the Princess Bride – never go in against marketers when data is on the line.

What have you found?

As a community we are all naturally curious, so we encourage you to start scouring Facebook and Twitter and look for those interesting stories. When you find them feel free to give us a shout in the comments below or reach out to any of the contributors to this post over on Twitter (Robin Lord, Emily Potter, Dominic Woodman, Will Critchlow and Tim Allen)

The State of Pro-Justice Advertising as Justice Kennedy Retires


The word evokes many emotions. But for those who have plans to quit the 9-to-5, there are always some indulgent hopes. A store-bought cake in the break room. Congratulatory pats on the back. A contented sigh over a mug of coffee as the retiree enjoys their last day in the office.

But yesterday, when US Supreme Court judge Anthony Kennedy announced his decision to retire, the public reaction was far from supportive.

As of now, #kennedyretirement has been trending on Twitter for several hours. Checking out the tag, you’ll find hundreds of tweets from people expressing real, genuine fear for the future of America.

But why is this a big deal?

With a spot newly opened in the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump can place whoever he wants into the seat. This means he has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cement a conservative majority on the top court.

What could conceivably come from this are the removal of rights from several groups. But one hot-button issue that is particularly being explored today is women’s reproductive rights.

Although Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, the hard-won right for women to choose what to do with their bodies has always been on shaky ground.

When DeVito/Verdi was still a young agency, we teamed up with the Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP) to create a series of ads to bring awareness to this vulnerability and mobilize abortion-rights supporters. This was in 1999, and the abortion debate had been fraught with dwindling abortion providers and anti-choice terrorist attacks.

Social awareness advertising is not new, and it continues to shape politics today. To increase a campaign’s chances of success, it is often stressed that the company establish a solid stance on a controversial issue, with provocative content that sparks and holds its audience’s interest.

However, with such contentious subject matter, agencies must tread with caution, else the entire campaign backfires. This was seen in the case of Pepsi last year, when the soda company was accused of trivializing Black Lives Matter with their TV spot, in which white reality TV star Kendall Jenner brings peace between protesters and law enforcement by offering a police officer a can of Pepsi.

While public awareness on many social issues, including the vulnerability of abortion rights, seems to have grown in recent years, it’s clear the fight is far from over. From producing conversation-sparking imagery to stepping into a booth to cast a vote, there are all kinds of concrete ways to build awareness and inspire action.

Justice Kennedy’s departure can appear like a step backwards. But it is also an opportunity. His departure will highlight the fight for access to abortion, and with abortion once more in the public eye, now is the time for pro-choice organizations to focus heavily on influencing public opinion.

In the coming months, abortion will once again be at the forefront of America’s political conversations. The time is right to reach people through effective, incisive advertising and take a stand for what is right.

Integer Releases Final Installment Of Artificial Intelligence Study Series

Integer released the fourth and final white paper in a series of research findings surrounding the impact of artificial intelligence on commerce.  Embracing The Machines: AI’s Collision with Commerce is a study of over 3,500 respondents illuminating how shoppers perceive and use AI and to what degree people will allow AI to become part of shopping in the future. The study also draws implications for what brands, retailers and marketers need to know regarding AI’s influence on the commerce landscape.

In the fourth and final installment of the study, “Part 4: The Socioeconomics of AI,” Integer examines the data in light of the varying socioeconomic factors affecting today’s shopping culture. Integer explores whether attitudes toward and adoption of AI technology differ based on socioeconomic factors including household income, education level, and region.

For more on the series, read the press release here or visit Shopper Culture.

Sixth Sense Q&A: Tammy Hwang

  1. Yourself in 6 words.
    • Curious, confident, levelheaded, problem solver, open-minded, kind.
  2. How did you get your start in this industry?
    • I was looking for an international opportunity and came across an interesting research role working on Coca-Cola. The brand was conducting a global study to understand the key occasions/moments when people drink carbonated soft drinks and which of those occasions/moments they would drink Coca-Cola. The research was conducted in 30 countries to understand cultural differences and consumption patterns.
  3. What’s your favorite piece of work you’ve been a part of bringing to life?
    • MasterCard Priceless Campaign. We knew as soon as the first ad “father & son” was written, it was going to be a gamechanger for MasterCard. We had no idea it was destined to become part of culture.
  4. Who is one of your biggest influencers?
    • Ang Lee: he is a Taiwanese film director and screenwriter. He crossed cultural barriers into the cinema mainstream and his movie The Ice Storm is one of my favorite movies of all time.
  5. Do you have a hidden talent?
    • I’m an official certified “scorer” for Little League baseball games.
  6. What does your sixth sense tell you is going to be the next ‘big thing’ in the industry?
    • AR in retail beyond AR could bring new energy and transform the role and expectation for retail stores. For example, AR mirrors to let customers try products on more conveniently.

Dallas Ad World Shows Off Their Best and Brightest

The Frontiers of Flight Museum was the venue for the 2018 Dallas Shining Stars Gala on June 21st hosted by AAF Dallas.  This was the second year for the program that encourages peers from the Dallas ad community to nominate their favorite advertising woman to the status of Dallas Shining Star. Integer’s Ellen Cook, President, Dallas was recognized, and AdChat DFW featured an interview with Ellen surrounding the recognition HERE.

We’re hiring: Social Media Manager

We’re after someone pretty special to create stunning visual content for our social media clients, including Fox’s Biscuits, Pukka Pies and Belvoir Fruit Farms. If you’re a brilliant social media manager and content creator, read on. You could be just who we’re looking for.


  • 3-5 years’ experience working in a dedicated social media role.
  • Experience working on consumer brands comparable to the scale and stature of Together clients
  • Fully capable across all the following: social media planning; campaign implementation – organic and paid; community Management and associated software/tools; analysis and associated tools
  • A relevant degree
  • Some time working client-side would be an advantage. If all experience is client side, they would need to demonstrate exposure to a wide range of platforms, campaigns, analytics, organic and paid.


Your main role will be to work jointly with clients to set objectives for social media activity, contribute to the process of improving social media strategies that are consistent with, and integrated into, overall marketing strategies in order to meet objectives. Create annual/quarterly/monthly social media plans and reports according to client needs. Working with the creative team to generate content for clients’ social media programmes as requested. Act as Community Manager and actively manage client relationships and ensure they are strong, recommending client socials, client professional development etc.

Why apply?

For one thing, we’ll pay you a competitive salary and give you a decent chunk of holiday to boot. But as well as that, our agency is genuinely a brilliant place to work. Our team is close-knit and super friendly and we’re set slap bang in Nottingham City Centre, so it’s an easy commute – and even easier to find a spot for after-work drinks.

Ready to send your application? Great. Email hello@togetheragency.co.uk with your CV and a brilliant portfolio and/or showreel, with ‘Vacancy: Social Media Manager’ as the subject line. Or, if you want to know more, give us a call.

The post We’re hiring: Social Media Manager appeared first on we think.

Could social media be a new TV platform?

Instagram launched a new standalone video platform to compete with YouTube. This new feature is a way for users to film and watch longform videos without leaving the app. The videos can be up to an hour long, in comparison to the previous 60-second video feature on Instagram.  

The issue with a 60-second limit: Users would post a video to their “Instagram story” and then a link to a follow-up, longer video, on YouTube. The new Instagram TV removes YouTube from the equation, keeping the whole video on Instagram. Realistically, no need to ever leave.

The longform video will take up the entire screen of your phone, and will eventually get its own app called IGTV. The Instagram algorithm will pair you with videos you might like, videos that are popular, and videos from creators you follow. Once you reach at least 10,000 followers, Instagram allows you to post videos up to 60 minutes in length. If you are an average Instagram user with less than 10,000 followers, you can post videos up to 10 minutes.  

In the past few years, social media platforms have become increasingly complex, transitioning from just a place to socialize to news and media platforms. Instagram’s recent direction has taken aim at fellow social media platform, Snapchat. When Instagram created the “stories” feature and soon after the “story highlights” feature, competition between the two rose. The new IGTV launch will put Snapchat’s video focused discover page at even more risk.

But, the main competitor this launch targets is YouTube. As the dominant video platform, YouTube has yet to face much competition since Google purchased it in 2006. There is really no other platform just quite like it. If YouTube content creators shift to Instagram, YouTube might lose its dominance, similar to how Vine’s decline was marked by content creators shifting to YouTube.

This new launch will be a test to see how social features integrate with a video platform. YouTube tried to implement social features in the past, most notably the failed Google+ integration, but they are at the very core of IGTV. As Instagram remains a popular social media platform, will longform videos be as engaging as the shorter posts for which Instagram is known?

Aesop All Stars: Ben O’Connor

We often know an agency by its work, but what about the folk who make it happen? In this series we introduce some of the people behind the scenes at Aesop and find out what makes them tick. Here we meet one of our recent hires, Business Director Ben O’Connor.

After rising through the ranks to Director level at Ogilvy, high flyer Ben’s career really took off at B2B agency Gravity, where he led the Airbus account. Now living the highlife at Aesop, he’s working on brand strategy projects for blue chip clients including Shell at HSBC. The sky’s the limit…



Where do you draw your creativity from?/What fuels your creativity?
The beauty of working in the creative industry is that you’re able draw inspiration from all around you – a diverse mix of characters and eccentric personalities, joining together to form motivated teams, coming at problems from all sorts of different angles and producing great work off the back of an irresistible client brief. It’s this combination that gets me excited…

How do you employ narrative thinking in your role?
What’s special about narrative thinking is that it combines structure with flexibility, giving true freedom to explore. This makes it easy to employ in all aspects of your everyday role. It attracted me to join Aesop in the first place as it provides a fresh and unique alternative to more traditional approaches. Now on the inside, it’s clear to see that narrative thinking and storytelling are things that the agency treasures both in terms of how we apply it to our client challenges and to understand and appreciate what it means to work here. It’s something that clients (and partners) get immediately making it easy to inspire intrigue and opportunity which, in a world where agencies need to demonstrate value and a clear point of difference, is priceless…

What do success stories look like for you?
Success stories come in many forms but in short it comes down to motivated people and inspired/satisfied clients. The perfect combination.

Check out some of the strategic work Ben will be contributing to here, and stay tuned for our next Aesop All Star.

Generation Z

For nearly a quarter century, the Millennial generation has been written about and discussed at length in management books, blogs, articles and conferences. We all know about Generation Y and its cultural touchstones; Twitter, Vice, Arbnb etc. They were the most tech-savvy generation in history – until the advent of Generation Z. These new kids on the block, who are just entering the work-place are the first truly digital generation. They are never known a world without the Internet.

Generation Z, they are the cohort of young people born from the late 1990s onwards, and are the next lot to come of age after the Millennials (Generation Y) who have dominated the media and marketing landscape, since, well the Millennium.

While Gen Z follows Millennials closely, these two generations are not entirely identical when it comes to the social media networks they visit, the devices they use and how much content they consume.

Get Z have grown up in a world where their options are limitless but their time is not. As such, they’ve adapted quickly to sorting through and assessing enormous amounts of information. Online, they rely heavily on trending pages within apps to collect the most popular recent content. They also turn to trusted curators to locate the most relevant information and entertainment. These tools help Gen Z shrink their potential option set down to a more manageable size.

What defines Generation Z?

It’s hard to define this generation and it would be remiss to attempt to ‘categorise’ them. For example there are young people who are lost, can’t find work and have no sense of hope. Then there are others who are thriving and making a substantial amount of money; selling their apps at 17, Youtube stars, Sapchatters, Instagrammers.

They are the generation of contradictions they seek stability but aren’t loyal. They are a generation who are hard to pin down across the board truths; the only one is they are all digital.

Historically, younger generations have always stirred new ideas into the corporate world, causing some expected ‘irritation’ for older generations,” says Erica Dhawan, a writer, speaker and consultant on next generation leadership. “Yet this time it’s not an attitude problem, it’s a transition in business where globalization and technology have radically changed the game.”

5 facts about Gen Z

  1. According to best-selling author and generations expert David Stillman, you won’t find those in Generation Z frequenting Facebook or Twitter as much as their predecessors. Keenly aware of software monitoring, they are more likely to share their worlds on apps such as Snapchat or Instagram. Often dubbed Digital Natives, Millennials are much more likely to share their lives in the open on platforms such as Facebook.
  2. According to Forbes, social entrepreneurship is important to Generation Z, a group that is driven to volunteer and choose a career in which they can make a difference.
  3. Influencer marketing has become a hot go-to strategy for many brands, and there’s no better generation for this than Generation Z. Snackable, unobtrusive content is key to communicating with them.
  4. The days of sending CVs via traditional formats are long gone. Compared to older generations, Gen Z are eager to use Instagram (59%, compared to 21%), Snapchat (56%, compared to 9%), and Tumblr (17%, compared to 3%) to get into employment.
  5. Ernst & Young ran a multigenerational survey of 1,800 people in the United States in order to gain insights into Gen-Z and found that the majority of them have a ‘do-it-myself’ mentality and a real entrepreneurial spirit. They have seen people their own age create successful companies, and this independent mindset is showing within their attitude to work.



The post Generation Z appeared first on Tonic Agency.

Colorado Ad Day 2018

Integer’s Media Supervisor Melanie Reagan joined a panel with MIQ, SpotX, Hulu and Samba TV on Home Sweet Opportunity Home: The rising might of addressable TV at Colorado Ad Day this year.

As large-scale TV buys continue to erode, the ability to show different ads to different households while they watch the same program is undeniably attractive. That’s addressable TV. Who wouldn’t turn down the chance to pinpoint audiences with more automated data-driving buying approach? In the era where TV and digital video are meshing and the ad buying process evolves rapidly, addressable TV proves to be a boon for media teams eager for a platform with far more bite than bark. The panel did a deep dive into this cross-device mechanism ripe with opportunities emerging left and right.