“Previously you could get problems resolved in a couple of weeks,” said a media buyer who asked for anonymity. “We’ve had issues going on four or five months now and still don’t have an answer. [For some clients] we’ve had to move off the platform because of it, had to move ad spend to Google and YouTube.”
The specific problems vary among buyers — many of whom specialize in performance marketing for direct-to-consumer brands. Some say they’ve gotten locked out of ad accounts or had accounts shut down with little to no response from Facebook despite multiple tries. Others say backend issues with Facebook Ads Manager have increased — one buyer cited being unable to calculate metrics on a campaign level for some client accounts. Another cited overall attribution issues, which made it more difficult to make strategic decisions, especially when dealing with unresponsive reps.
“It’s definitely gotten way less responsive,” said Susan Wenograd, a paid search and social expert who has been managing media for brands for the last 15 years, who recently experienced an unresponsive ad rep when dealing with being locked out of her ad account (eventually, she turned to a colleague’s ad rep who did help). “I only hear from them when they want to push us to spend more. There are diamonds in the rough here and there — like the one who isn’t even my rep and chipped in to help recover my account — but they don’t appear to be the majority.”
Whether a Facebook ad rep is responsive can depend on the rep as well as whether an account is growing, according to Katya Constantine, CEO of DigiShopGirl Media, who added that her experience with her ad rep in recent months has been “one of the best in a long time.”
“While no one is perfect, our teams have been more hands-on than ever before, helping agencies navigate significant challenges during the pandemic,” said a Facebook spokesperson when asked about the issue. “We continue to invest heavily in the agency community’s long-term growth through tools and training, including the launch of Rise, a free professional development program for agency professionals who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.”
With privacy tracking changes via Apple’s iOS 14 rolling out in the coming weeks, buyers who have been dealing with unresponsive ad reps in recent months say they expect to fend for themselves.
Buyers are going to have to become “comfortable with being more self-reliant,” said Wenograd, adding that some buyers, particularly those more junior in their career, used to rely on their reps to better understand things behind the scenes. “[Facebook ad reps] don’t answer questions, and I’m unsure if they can’t or just won’t. We’re heading into uncharted territory with iOS 14, so it’s crucial buyers test and learn for their accounts, and adapt. Facebook is probably going to be doing a lot of damage control as it rolls out, but I don’t have much faith there will be a good solution short-term.”
Some buyers say that unresponsive reps, as well as ongoing performance issues, have had them move ad dollars to other ad platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Google search.
That being said, platform diversification has been on the rise among performance marketing agencies for months.
Jeromy Sonne, CEO of Decibel, has dealt with unresponsive ad reps as well and been reducing spending for clients on Facebook as part of a push to diversify as well as to deal with performance and backend issues with Ads Manager. “It’s been a conversation happening for the last six months but the urgency hit and we started actually doing it about a month ago when it was clear things weren’t going to get better,” said Sonne.
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