Facebook faces global outage again: A wake up call to SEA marketers?

Facebook has experienced yet another day-long outage worldwide not long after the one it had earlier in March. In a statement to Marketing, a Facebook spokesperson said it has prevented individuals and businesses from uploading or sending images, videos and other files on its apps and platforms. The issue, which was triggered by “routine maintenance operations” has since been resolved, the social media giant added.

It comes as no surprise that Facebook is where many marketers park their marketing spend in Asia. Indonesia for one, has one of the highest numbers of Facebook users and as such, is a country where advertising on Facebook is a core part of marketing. Malaysia and Singapore follow a similar trend, say digital players Marketing spoke to. In fact, globally, at the start of 2019, the social media giant’s profits showed that digital advertisers were still spending money on its platform even after scandals and outages.

As such, with the global outages, client campaigns will no doubt be impacted. Speaking to Marketing, M&C Saatchi’s executive planning director Elki Hendria said that advertisers who have relied on Facebook’s ad-targeting capabilities and wide audiences network will simply need to accept the fact that there will be a major lost opportunity for optimisation – especially if the campaign is running at the time of the outage.

“The price of ads across Facebook and Instagram surged immediately following the outage and kept fluctuating at the time of the outage and even on the post-outage,” he said. Hendria added that the key takeaway from the situation is that as great as Facebook is as a platform, it shouldn’t be the end-all for advertisers.

“Maybe its time for advertisers to have a look elsewhere and start re-evaluating their social ads tool possibly another social channel or even an email list,” he added.

He added that in Indonesia, YouTube is another platform which has gained prominence and is the main channel of entertainment due to the rise of celebrity culture and influencers and vloggers. Marketers need to be ready to convert assets into a variety of snackable content for other channels, be it overlay, display ads, bumper ads in situations such as these, to make up for reach and engagement.

Flock’s chief digital officer Jeffrey Nijstad echoed the sentiment and said the outages no doubt impact the number of consumers reached and as such, when a client campaign is running, the agency usually moves its media spend to platforms such as YouTube or Twitter. But on the bright side, marketers can also turn adversity into an opportunity.

“With the increase in watch time and conversation following the incident through hashtags such as #instagramdown, marketers can get creative in real-time advertising,” he said. A simple example he gives is on real-time marketing. For a client in the entertainment industry, it could be as simple as “Facebook down again? Buy a ticket to cinema and get 50% discount”. A promo code could also help to better spot user behaviour.

LOKi CEO Loke Weng Leong explained that depending on the execution and its timing, the outage could derail the entire campaign. He added that the incident has also brought out the importance for digital and social media agencies to have a crisis plan in place.

The recent outage was on three critical platforms that not only serve as content but also act as a critical communication tool.

“The impact of the outage as well as any shortfall of objectives and KPIs should be identified quickly and quick actions need to be taken to make up for the shortfall,” he said. Additionally, clients should also not be overly reliant on a single channel and have a more diverse digital strategy.

On the flip side, the impact of Facebook outages may also not be as big as everyone thinks, said KRDS Asia director Preetham Venkky. He added that modern day marketers may have to gear up for several down times few times a year, according to Venkky.

“Facebook’s products have become a utility for over two billion users and this has made the impact of outage, even for a few minutes, deeply felt,” he said. However, Venkky said the platform is facing a strain on its infrastructure due to the large audience as well. There is little an advertiser can do to plan for it or take any precautions as the outages are always unannounced. The only way to reduce risks is to diversify the channels, he said.

Digitized CEO DD “Lulut” Asmoro agreed with diversification, stating that different channels have different strengths and weaknesses, and should therefore serve different purposes. In light of the incident, he is looking to Facebook for possible compensation. “I think it would be unfair if advertisers were charged at normal price given that their campaign materials may not appear properly,” he added.

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