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Facebook brings augmented reality ads to the news feed

Meanwhile, the UK's privacy watchdog is fining the social network for the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and contemplating an 'ethical pause' around use of microtargeting ad tools for political campaigns
A Facebook logo
The new AR ad feature allows users to try on the products that are advertised on Facebook's news feed

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) announced Tuesday it is bringing augmented reality ads to the Facebook news feed and expanding shopping in Instagram Stories to all companies.

These augmented reality ads are in the testing phase, and users in the US will be the only ones who will see them for now.

Michael Kors was the first brand to test out AR ads in Facebook’s news feed, with Sephora, NYX Professional Makeup, Bobbi Brown, Pottery Barn, Wayfair and King planning their own tests for later this summer, reported TechCrunch.

The new AR ad feature allows users to try on the products that are advertised through a process similar to that of a Snapchat filter. The ads look like normal in-feed ads at first, but they include a "Tap to try it on" option, which opens up the AR capabilities.

READ: Facebook is acquiring Bloomsbury AI, says a TechCrunch report

It stands to reason that if users like the way a product looks in AR, they are more likely to go ahead and buy the product.

"People traditionally have to go into stores to do this," Ty Ahmad-Taylor, vice president of product marketing for Facebook's global marketing solutions told TechCrunch. "People still really love that experience, but they would like to try it at home — so this bridges the gap."

Facebook also announced a new Video Creation Kit, which will allow advertisers to incorporate existing images into templates for mobile video ads.

Separately, Facebook announced it will expand its support for shopping in Instagram Stories. It made shopping tags available to select brands in Stories last month and now plans to roll that out to all brands that have enabled shopping in Instagram.

UK privacy watchdog guns for Facebook  

Across the pond, the Information Commissioner’s Office intends to fine Facebook the maximum possible under U.K’s 1998 data protection regime for breaches related to the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.

“It has been told it will likely face a fine of £500,000 (US$662,563) — a drop in the ocean for a company that turned over US$12.7bn in the fourth quarter of 2017,” noted The Telegraph with tongue firmly in cheek. 

This is the maximum fine officials can hand out because Facebook is being penalized under old data protection law. It’s a lucky escape for Facebook because if the breach had occurred after May 25, it would have fallen under the General Data Protection Regulation, which gives the regulator powers to fine a company up to 4% of its global revenue.

However, the fine may be the tip of the regulatory missiles now being directed at the social media giant and its ad-targeting methods.

ICO has published a comprehensive policy report in which it sets out a series of policy recommendations on how to secure personal information in the era of modern political campaigns.

In the report it calls directly for an "ethical pause" around the use of microtargeting ad tools for political campaigning to "allow the key players —  government, parliament, regulators, political parties, online platforms and citizens — to reflect on their responsibilities in respect of the use of personal information in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies."

Facebook traded slightly lower to US$202.80 midday Wednesday.

Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @UttaraProactive


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