Meta's New Ad Policy: Trust, But Don't Verify

Will this leap of faith in ad transparency crumble under the weight of bad actors?

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In Today’s Issue:

👥 Meta bets on WhatsApp as a platform for business communication 

📱 WhatsApp still plans to show ads in user status updates 

📸 Instagram introduces a new feature to highlight post replies in stories 

👀 Instagram users can now disable read receipts in direct messages 

🎥 TikTok launches an updated Events API to help advertisers track campaign performance 

👍 TikTok adds more local agencies to its marketing partner program 

🛒 Google rolls out new shopping features to boost conversions 

📺 Walmart launches shoppable ads on NBCUniversal’s Peacock 

🗳 Meta’s new policy for AI-generated political ads relies on the honor system

Search Themes, CPC Spikes, and Chrome’s New Price Checks

Every other week, exclusively here in the Premium Newsletter (and Premium Podcast), our Google ads correspondent Jyll Saskin Gales walks us through the latest platform changes. Jyll runs the Inside Google Ads training program (affiliate link).

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Ad Placements Coming to WhatsApp

  • Zuckerberg views WhatsApp as Meta's future.

  • Ads in WhatsApp Status and Channels considered.

  • WhatsApp remains central to Meta's monetization.

In the family of Meta apps, WhatsApp — the messaging tool — is kind of the ugly stepchild.

Meta bought it almost ten years ago now for $19 billion. Since then, Meta’s more or less left it to its own devices — occasionally running in to dress it up in features nobody asked for (like Stories), then running back to the golden children: Instagram and Facebook.

Now, though, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he sees WhatsApp as the "next chapter" for the company. His comments come as Meta seeks new revenue streams, with WhatsApp and Messenger still in the early stages of monetization.

So how will they monetize the messaging app that is outrageously popular outside of North America? Ads, of course.

Meta’s head of WhatsApp confirmed this week that ads are likely to appear in the app's Status feature and possibly within the new Channels feature, although the exact timeline remains unclear.

The introduction of ads is a delicate balance for WhatsApp, which has traditionally prioritized a clean, ad-free interface. But with the app's vast user base, Meta sees an untapped opportunity for businesses to reach consumers directly.

For marketers, that would mean new placements available in the Ads Manager, which is never a bad thing.

Share Your Brand’s Post Comments in Stories

  • Instagram introduces post reply sharing in Stories.

  • Follows similar engagement tools in Reels, TikToks, etc.

  • New toggle to disable DM read receipts tested.

Post Comments on IG Stories

A new engagement opportunity for brands that use a lot of Instagram — you’ll soon be able to highlight replies to your posts by sharing them directly in your Stories.

You’ve seen this before on Reels and TikTok videos and the likes… the new thing here is that you can fish comments out of your regular Instagram posts section.

This is actually pretty great, since regular posts tend to get a lot more comments, and it’s rolling out starting today.

Disabling Read Receipts

Instagram may also soon let us all disable read receipts in direct messages.

This was announced this week — it’s currently in the testing phase. This is strictly at the consumer app-level… brands that use Instagram’s APIs to read DMs currently don’t trigger any read receipt notifications.

But some marketers, small ones especially, use the Instagram mobile app itself for checking DMs, and this would provide one nice layer of privacy for those.

No word on if they would extend the same option to users of its Messenger app.

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New Events API and Expands Partner Program

  • TikTok's updated API improves campaign tracking.

  • New local agencies join TikTok's Partner Program.

TikTok has launched an updated Events API, allowing advertisers to track ad campaign performance by connecting their internal data with TikTok's systems.

Events API Details

The updated API integrates three different endpoints, simplifying the data tracking process and helping marketers to mitigate data losses due to the phasing out of cookies and other privacy measures. TikTok claims that this integration will lead to a 19% increase in event capture and a 15% improvement in cost per action for advertisers using TikTok Pixel and Events API together.

New Marketing Partners

In addition to the API update, TikTok has expanded its Marketing Partner Program by adding local ad agencies. This expansion, tested in Asia and now rolling out globally, lets brands collaborate with local experts officially endorsed by TikTok for their platform expertise. These agencies have been trained and vetted to provide TikTok-first campaign strategies.

New Features for Holiday Shopping

  • Google introduces exclusive deals hub for shoppers.

  • New pricing tools aim to increase online conversions.

  • Annual Holiday 100 list offers trending gift ideas.

Google this week released some new shopping features for both advertisers and consumers.

The updates include a new deals hub, which aggregates discounts from various websites into one location.

Google is also introducing new pricing capabilities. These include a dedicated deals page, a "resume browsing" card on Chrome that reminds shoppers of products they've viewed, and a new discount tag icon in the Chrome address bar that alerts users to available coupon codes.

For merchants, these features are controllable from within the Merchant Center settings.

And in line with the holiday spirit, Google's annual Holiday 100 list is also making a comeback. This list provides insights into trending searches over the year, offering gift ideas across various categories, including wellness, electronics, and toys.

Walmart’s Shoppable TV Ads on Peacock

  • Walmart partners with NBCUniversal for interactive ads.

  • Viewers can shop products seen on "Below Deck Mediterranean".

  • New ad experience uses AI and QR codes for easy shopping.

Starting with the popular show "Below Deck Mediterranean," viewers are able to purchase items directly from their screens during the show.

Here’s how it works: As viewers watch certain episodes—and there are only three of them so far—they can use their remote to navigate a carousel of products featured in the show. When they see something they like, a QR code appears on the screen. Scanning the code with a smartphone leads directly to Walmart's checkout.

For instance, dishware that appears in a dinner scene in one of these episodes will pop up as being shoppable.

There are other services that do this — Roku has a product called Action Ads, which Walmart tried out a couple of years ago as well.

‘Honour System’ for AI Political Ads on Meta

  • Meta's new policy requires self-disclosure for AI ads.

  • Advertisers must reveal if ads are digitally created/altered.

  • Policy aims to label or remove misleading synthetic media.

Meta has introduced a new policy that requires political advertisers to disclose when their ads are generated or significantly altered by artificial intelligence — this, of course, trying to get ahead of the American elections next year.

Under the new guidelines, starting in January, advertisers on Meta platforms must disclose if their ads depict events or statements that did not occur or were not made by the individuals portrayed. If such a disclosure is made, Meta will mark the ad to indicate it was digitally created or altered.

But here’s the problem — this relies entirely on the honour system. Meta’s not detecting the use of AI and flagging it; they’re relying on the advertisers to mark it. They say if the ad picks up viral steam, well, then they’ll have a look.

Which, to be fair, might be Meta’s only option. Detection of generative AI is not simple, and things like watermarks or hidden identifiers haven’t yet gotten widespread use.

That might work for large, established, respected brands — the ones that probably wouldn’t do this anyway — but we’ve already seen some American political campaigns use generative AI to make stuff up, run it as if it’s real, and not say anything about the fakery.

Meta has also prohibited the use of its own generative AI tools for political ads, aligning its policy with similar measures taken by Google and YouTube.

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