Marketers demand more quality from Facebook

Users distrust Facebook, advertisers continue to invest. Coca-Cola CMO Michael Willeke explains why.


Facebook is in the headlines almost every day. Numerous accounts on Facebook and Instagram have recently been blocked for having belonged to secret agents attempting to influence the US presidential election. Furthermore, the fact that user data does not really belong to its owners is seen in the latest revelation that the social platform not only wanted to make the data available to the market, but also wanted to charge a fee for it. This doesn’t exactly strengthen users’ confidence in the platform. When it comes to the security of their data, Germans apparently don’t have a good feeling about Facebook anymore. Only 14 percent feel that they are in good hands with the social network. This is the result of the study “Digital Values 2.0 – Trust me, if you can!” conducted by Media Impact.

The study outlines the far-reaching consequences for the digital economy. Cookies are deleted by every second person and fake profiles are created to protect identities. This also damages Facebook itself. A quarter of those who heard about the data scandal say they no longer use Facebook at all.

Nevertheless, advertisers continue to rely on social spending, according to a recent survey of members of organization of advertisers in the brand association (German: OWM). According to the survey, 59 percent of respondents want to invest more in social media in the coming year.

Is this a paradox? We spoke with Michael Willeke about this. The Marketing Director at the beverage giant Coca-Cola talks about a change in user behavior, but this has nothing to do with a lack of confidence in social media.


Cambridge Analytica and other data leaks have affected the reputation of social media. According to a study conducted by Media Impact, users are worried about their data on the internet. How do you view this trend?

“While some media users may be skeptical about social media, other studies show that the use of it continued to increase in 2018. While one social network shows slight losses, others show significant growth. We can therefore assume that user behavior has changed, but not that this is mainly due to a lack of consumer confidence in the social networks.”


How has user behavior changed?

“For example, users are now quicker in finding content that is relevant to them. For us advertisers, this means that we have to align our strategies with this new usage behavior. The development of relevant and creative social media content for our target groups is therefore the best strategy.”


Many users now delete their browser history and cookies. What are the consequences for the advertising industry?

“Since the General Data Protection Regulation took effect in May 2018, all users have had to consent to the use of their data on websites. If they do not do so, this naturally also has an effect on online campaigns. From our point of view, there are therefore not more users deleting their browser histories, but rather an increasing number of users who click GDPR information off on websites or object to the use of data.”


Interestingly, however, the budgets that advertisers are investing in social media are increasing. Why?

“We are also continuing to use the opportunities offered by digital channels and social media for our brands. In the past few years, we have had good experiences with marketing programs based on social media – our silver GWA Effie Award for the Fanta SnapPoster campaign is a good example. However, quality, measurability and reliable data are becoming increasingly important. Coca-Cola is therefore reviewing digital advertising across Western Europe to address quality issues such as lack of visibility or brand safety among media partners and social networks. The aim here is to significantly improve advertising quality.”


The bottom line:

Yes or no to social media? Each study apparently interprets user behavior differently. For example, cookies are not necessarily actively deleted by users because they are suspicious of the web. The GDPR may well be a reason why users are not consenting to data usage. Ultimately, every marketer must decide for themselves whether to continue investing in the social channels. And then measure exactly what the campaigns have achieved. This is precisely what vast numbers of marketers are now demanding of Facebook: increased quality. After all, only when data and environments are secure and the visibility of the ads is guaranteed, will Facebook & Co. have solved their – undisputed – trust issues.