Facebook is going through some cha… cha… changes, which, ultimately, is going to be good for everyone involved.

Well, unless you like to use clickbait and/or dabble in fake news. Then things aren’t going to work out so well for you. But, for the rest of us, good riddance, we would like to advertise as responsible business owners.

WHAT I KNOW I THINK I KNOW

So, what, exactly, is Facebook going to change and how will it impact you? (That is what is on everyone’s mind.) Facebook is going to better scrutinize the ads being displayed on its platform. How? Wellllll….. Facebook doesn’t come right out and give the details of how they operate, but I can take a pretty good stab at what is going on because I watch thousands of ads get moved through the Buzz Frenzy app. So let’s take a look.

First thing I would like to say is this information is based on observational evidence. I am taking a couple of SWAGs here. It is what I think I know. It is NOT what I know I know. It is very important to make that distinction because I do not want you to think you know what I know I know I think I know. You know?

Now that I know we have that cleared up, let’s take a look under the hood.

I know I know this is going to be a very good thing.

WHEN THINGS GO WELL

When an advertisement gets submitted to Facebook there is a possibility for it to be reviewed twice. First by an algorithm, and then second by an actual human being. Why do I think I know this? Let’s look at what happens when a post gets buzzed on Buzz Frenzy.

First, let’s look at what happens when things go well…

Pending review - Quick

Here is what that means in software speak:
4:04pm: Buzz Frenzy says to Facebook, “Hey, turn this post into an ad, will you?
4:04pm: Facebook says, “Sure thing. Let me take a look at it.”
4:07pm: Facebook says, “Everything checks out. We’re running your ad.”
4:15pm: Facebook runs the ad.

Wasn’t that lovely? The whole process took 11 minutes. Pretty quick, all things considered.

WHEN THINGS GO… NOT SO WELL

Pending review - Lengthy

Again, in software speak:
2:34pm: Buzz Frenzy says to Facebook, “Hey, turn this post into an ad, will you?
2:34pm: Facebook says, “Sure thing. Let me take a look at it.”
3:24pm: Facebook says, “Everything checks out. We’re running your ad.”
3:26pm: Facebook runs the ad.

Hey now! What the what? This whole thing took an hour and 2 minutes. It took Facebook a good 50 minutes to review the ad. What’s happening here?

I think I know that the first ad passed through the algorithm without a hitch. I think I know the second ad went through human review. How do I know there is an algorithm? Check this out…

ALGORITHM REVIEW CLUE

Not nudity

This was a picture in a post that was flagged for… wait for it… wait for it… nudity! This picture was flagged for nudity.

This is a clear indication that a human being didn’t look at this. Something about that llama triggered the artificial intelligence in Facebook’s algorithm to think there was gross pornography happening in this photo.

We at Buzz Frenzy were able to successfully appeal the disapproval by saying (no joke), “Um… this is a llama…”

That’s why I think I know there is an algorithm.

Um… this is a llama…

HUMAN REVIEW CLUE

Why do I think I know that advertisements go through some sort of human review? Because last year Mark Zuckerberg posted that he was upping his reviewing staff to 7,500 people from 4,500 people. So, actually, I know I know that part.

What I don’t know is why, with that many people working on processing ads, “Pending Review” takes so long. I think I know it is simply a matter of mathematics. Facebook has 5 million monthly advertisers. They don’t tell us how many ads they actually run, but it’s going to be a whole bunch. Let’s just assume each advertiser is running one ad per day (yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s not how it works. But between campaigns and boosts, who knows what the “average” might be). That’s 365 ads per year for each advertiser. That’s 1.825 billion ads per year.

(5,000,000,000) advertisers X 365 days per year = 1,825,000,000 ads per year.

7,500 people working 40 hour weeks can cover 936,000,000 minutes in a year.

(7,500) people X (40) hours per week X (52) weeks X (60) minutes = 936,000,000 minutes/year.

Divide one by the other and we discover that each person has about 30 seconds to review an ad.

(936,000,000) minutes / (1,825,000,000) advertisements = .51 minutes per ad.

Okay, all of that being said, I think I know I am probably short on my calculations by a long shot, but still… 30 seconds per ad isn’t a very long time. Also take into consideration that these human reviewer positions need to be staffed 24/7, that staffing isn’t going to perfectly jibe with the amount of ads coming in every moment, and that humans are prone to… all those imperfectly human qualities that make them miss work. You can quickly figure out that there are going to be log-jams in the system from time to time.

What does that mean to you? It means that “Pending Review” doesn’t care what kind of time crunch you might be in.

HUMANS WILL BE HUMAN

Another thing about human review (I think): They are prone to subjectivity which can be influenced by all sorts of random things – is this particular reviewer having a good day or a bad day, are they a cat person or a dog person, do they enjoy country music or death metal, etc., etc., etc. All of this is to say that the same ad may be fine by one human’s standards and very not fine by another’s.

Why do I think that? The ads below all ran at around the same time – a fashion company, a burlesque troupe, and a photographer. One was flagged for “too much cleavage”. Guess which one…

Cleavage

If you guessed “mother with newborn” you are absolutely correct. We appealed, successfully, but it highlights the subjectivity of human review.

While we are on the subject of “appealing” a “flagged” ad. We here at Buzz Frenzy do that on your behalf, so there isn’t much to worry about on your end. But, just for fun, let’s take a look at how that works:

This is the alert we see on Facebook when an ad is flagged:

Flagged Ad

When that “Appeal” button is pressed this screen pops up:

Appeal an ad

Fun stuff, right?

So, what’s the point of going over all of this? It’s simply that as Facebook works through its issues, we businesses who advertise on the platform are going to have to adjust to these changes. We will be subject to heavier scrutiny. In the short term I think I know this is going to be frustrating. But, in the end, Facebook’s changes will purge unscrupulous advertisers from the site making it a much better experience for all involved – for both your customers and you.

I know I know this is going to be a very good thing.

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