Ad-Free Facebook Subscriptions Coming to EU

Greetings, everyone. Happy November. Please accept our apologies for being a day late. Call it vanity if you must, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to post the crap we had ready yesterday. We couldn’t think clearly at all and it was awful. Our best guess is that the Propofol we’d been administered on Wednesday and Thursday was still skulking around in our organs.

For a bit of background information, we’re in the middle of getting a few dental implants. It’s a more involved process than you’d probably expect (well, more involved than we expected, anyway– there is a lot of mandatory prep work) and it’s not cheap. We originally planned to get this work done almost exactly a year ago but had to delay because Sam Bankman-Fried stole tens of thousands of dollars from us. Consider yourself filled in if you’ve ever wondered why a blog that ostensibly focuses on digital marketing and advertising periodically devolves into anti-SBF rants.

On Monday, Meta announced that it will sell ad-free Facebook and Instagram subscriptions to Europeans in 2024. Meta’s business model of supporting its services with ads violates numerous EU privacy laws. Rather than dedicating an entire team to react to the constantly changing GDPR requirements, Meta can ensure long-term compliance by offering its European users a way to pay for Facebook and/or Instagram without having any of their data collected.

While this looks like an elegant solution, we have a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before Meta finds itself in the crosshairs of a new lawsuit after someone figures out that Meta continued to collect data about the people who paid to avoid just that. We can’t know this for sure, but we’d bet on it. Facebook has been caught doing that exact kind of thing so many times that we can tell you exactly how it would play out in their press releases: 1) an initial denial, 2) then an admission of “inadvertent” data collection; what happens after that could go a few ways– either 3a) admit that yes, they were collecting the data, but not because they wanted to sell ads; they collected the forbidden data for some kind of anti-terrorism reason or to make sure they were protecting children (in a way that doesn’t make any sense); or 3b) they’ll say that a rogue team who hadn’t been briefed on the rules collected the data and headquarters wasn’t in touch with them or indeed aware of what they were doing at all.

If you are in Europe and interested in paying for a Facebook or Instagram account without any advertising, the pricing is surprisingly tricky to pin down. The cost to someone using a desktop will be  €9.99 per month. Mobile access will be sold for  €12.99 per month. There are also €6 and €8 add-on charges for “additional accounts” after March 1, 2024. You can read the press release for yourself and try to see how much you’d need to pay based on your usage.

YouTube continues to intensify its fight against ad blockers and now there are numbers to support the most predictable development imaginable: people are ditching the Chrome browser and flocking to better ad blockers. We’d never block ads ourselves, but we’ve been told that uBlock Origin continues to work perfectly on when used with Firefox. Another ad blocker called Ghostery appears to be immune from YouTube’s attempts to detect and curtail ad blocking.

This article on Android Authority lists a bunch of uninstall numbers for ad blockers that no longer work on YouTube and goes into some of the problems they foresee if YouTube continues to ratchet up its desire to eradicate ad blocking (the creation of unintentional security holes is the most dire). The Reddit comments pertaining to that article are worth checking out if you are interested in reading about different ways people are dealing with YouTube’s ongoing ad blocker crackdown.

Now to close things out with some links we found interesting. Casey Bloys became the CEO of HBO in 2022. When he was merely the president of original programming in 2020, he ordered the creation of a Twitter sock puppet army to harass TV critics who didn’t say nice things about HBO shows. A tweet from Vulture critic Kathryn VanArendonk that didn’t adequately praise HBO’s Perry Mason remake set him off. The troll army didn’t retaliate against that Vulture critic–Mr Bloys replied to her from his own account–but Rolling Stone reports that the legion of fake accounts soon got to work “trolling the television critics with snarky responses … and dropping pro-HBO comments on trade publication stories.” Classy.

Amazon’s ad revenue jumped 26% to $12 billion in the 2023 Q3 that just ended. For anyone keeping score, Alphabet and Meta still dominate online ads with 28.8% and 20.5% of the global market share, but Amazon just crept up to 7.3% and plans to devote more resources to its advertising efforts.

Threads is now up to 137 million users, most of them people who installed the app, poked around for a few minutes, and haven’t taken another look. Meta is aware of how bad their Threads retention rates is, so they’ve started adding new features and improving the existing ones. You can read about some of those improvement efforts here.

That’s all for this week. Expect our blog post at the regular time next week. Also, a lot of Local Viking and Local Brand Manager users have burned through the 13 free audits we allocated for each account and have been asking us how they can get more. We are actively discussing pricing and plan to get that information to you on Monday. Don’t worry– the costs will very much be in line with our beat-everyone-else-on-price philosophy. Have a great weekend.

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