Following the Cambridge Analytica data breach controversy, Facebook is trying hard to reassure advertisers in India about the checks and balances it is putting in place through daily mails and calls from top global leadership team, senior industry executives said on condition of anonymity. Members of Facebook’s Client Council, a group of company and agency heads which was formed by Facebook to serve its clients better, agencies and key clients have been receiving frequent calls and emails from Sandeep Bhushan, director, India, South Asia,Facebook, and the global leadership team on the measures they are building in to put things in place.
Most advertisers and media planners ET spoke to said it is early to gauge whether ad budgets will go down for Facebook in the coming months but there is an expectation from the platform to provide clear, long term solutions.
“They are trying to assure advertisers and clients that this was definitely a breach and they are putting safeguards in place... They are saying they will be extremely stringent in terms of which apps can have Facebook logins etc. There has been frequent communication from them and they have been calling key partners individually to reassure them,” said a chief executive who got a call from the leadership team.
“There have been a series of issues about digital media in general. Issues around bots and ad fraud, brand safety and now, data privacy.Advertisers are a bit worried about the implications. If they are not addressed quickly, then it could, at some point, start impacting ad budget movements and create doubts in the minds of advertisers,” said CVL Srinivas, country manager, WPP India.
“At the moment, we don’t see immediate cutbacks. But, everyone’s keeping a very close watch. It is part of a larger problem,” he added.
Ashish Bhasin, chairman and CEO, South Asia at Dentsu Aegis Network, said he doesn’t see ad budgets getting impacted, but there is a need to provide a clean and transparent environment to advertisers in digital. “India is undergoing a boom in digital thanks to Jio and other networks. As per Dentsu studies, by 2020, it is going to be one fourth of the market. I don’t see ad budgets getting impacted, but if there is no long-term solution, clients will get less enthusiastic.”
Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Mediabrands, said he doesn’t foresee an immediate dip in ad budgets. “In the long run, advertisers follow consumers. It’s too early to say what will happen. It depends on how consumers will react. It’s such a big platform that overnight there is not going to be a big drop. If the mass of consumers settle in with whatever Facebook says, then things will not change. If we get the sense that consumers are opting out we will behave accordingly. What Facebook does with consumers now is most critical,” said Sinha.