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Amidst Controversy, Should Brands Distance Themselves from Facebook Advertising ? Not only celebrities but advertisers like German bank Commerzbank, Software Giant Mozilla and Consumer Electronics Manufacturer Sonos have also paused Facebook advertising.

By Nidhi Singh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Just over a week ago, Facebook began facing sharp criticism from all over the world for extracting personal information from over 50 million Facebook users. The information was further sold to Cambridge Analytica, a political data analysis firm that had worked for Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The data was used to influence individual voter's opinion on Facebook.

The scandal has drawn flak from many big brands and celebrities. Furthermore, they feel cheated because the information was transferred to third party without their knowledge. In the wake of the incident, many big names like Elon Musk, Will Ferrell, Cooper Hefner and Farhan Akhtar have already stepped away from the social network.

Not only celebrities but advertisers like Germany's Commerzbank, Software Giant Mozilla and Consumer Electronics Manufacturer Sonos have also paused Facebook advertising. Facebook advertising is one of the most common used method of online advertising. Other key advertisers are still facing a dilemma over whether to halt advertising on the platform or not.

Entrepreneur India spoke to few industry experts to know their perspective on the recent ongoing debate.

Make Security Your Priority:

In general, there have been other privacy and security issues reported in the past like ad-frauds.

However, Andesh Bhatti, Founder and CEO, Collectcent feels through the recent incidents, it is clear that not only advertisers, but users of the platform will be more vigilant than before.

"I feel the industry will continue to keep their budgets, with an eye on transparency and security as it is little early to say if brands would stop advertising on the platform. As a global leader in the digital space, the social giant has to address security issues highlighted and we hope to see better guidelines put in place," said Bhatti.

Is There an Equivalent of Facebook ?

According to Oliver Eriksson, Managing Director Strategy & Intelligence, VML SEA & India, if there is going to be any consequence from the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica breach, trust is what will mostly be impacted.

"Trust between Facebook and its users, as well as trust towards brands who are active players on the platform and compile a large amount of data on their consumers. The breaking of trust may accelerate the need for action. There have been other huge breaches of privacy through many well-known hacks. What makes this situation different is the lack of any apparent forced entry which will have a permanent effect on consumer trust," said Eriksson.

He then went on to say that this and other likely future scandals will serve as a big wake-up call for consumers that their personal data is being abused in order for companies to convert that data into capital returns for their shareholders.

"Before thinking of taking a pause from Facebook though, brands should also review if their target audience is stepping away from the platform. If they are, then there is lesser need to be present on it, however if a brand's target audience is still very present on the platform, marketers will still need to be able to reach their consumers through a convenient medium. Brands have been using Facebook as a medium to communicate with their consumers for a long time now and finding an equally resourceful track for the immediate future may pose difficult," he explained.

Brand Visibility On Stake :

Facebook is one of the strongest social media platforms for brands. Up till now, it has played a vital role in boosting business for more than 5 million advertisers all over the world, India being one of the fastest growing markets.

Sanjay Vasudeva, CEO & Founder, Buzzone shared as long as Facebook delivers results, brands must continue advertising on the platform as it targets wider consumer markets and pausing the same could hamper the brand visibility to a great extent.

"While we understand the apprehension of brands due to the recent issue with Facebook, we believe this is a temporary issue and will be resolved by Facebook at the earliest," he said.

No Replacement for Facebook:

Agreeing with Vasudeva, Vikas Tiwari, Founder of What a Story, also emphasized that many businesses will not stop using Facebook advertising.

"They make a lot of revenue by targeting audience and ads. My guess is that there is a replacement of Uber (In India its OLA), replacement of Flipkart but there is no replacement for Facebook yet. I know many people in rural as well urban areas, who have just learned Facebook, and they are not going to use Snapchat or LinkedIn or Twitter anytime soon," said Tiwari

Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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