Facebook is facing a growing advertiser boycott — dozens of companies announced over the past month that they'll pause ad spending on the social network.
A new report reveals that, in addition to the companies that announced they were joining the boycott, a handful of major advertisers quietly paused ad spending on Facebook with no announcement this month.
Walmart, Geico, McDonald's, Allstate, Kellogg's, Kohl's, Dell, Peloton, and Ikea all paused Facebook ads in July, costing the social network millions in revenue, according to a report from Media Matters.
The boycott was started by civil rights activists to protest hate speech and misinformation on Facebook's platform. But for advertisers, pulling out of Facebook is more about brand safety than political activism.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes a drink of water as he testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 11, 2018, about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy.
Facebook's advertiser woes are growing as a mounting boycott of the platform stretches into its second month — and a new report shows that even more major advertisers than previously thought have quietly paused business with the tech giant since early July.
Dozens of companies paused ads on Facebook last month, with many touting their decision to pull out amid calls to boycott the tech giant. Civil rights activists first started pressuring advertisers to take a stand against Facebook for its policies on hate speech and handling of President Trump's posts in the wake of George Floyd's death.
But some major advertisers have also pulled ads with little fanfare. Walmart, McDonald's, Geico, Allstate, Kellogg's, Kohl's, Dell, Peloton, and Ikea all paused ads on Facebook since early July, according to a new report from Media Matters citing industry data and people familiar with the actions.
The paused ads could have already cost Facebook millions. Walmart spent $145 million on Facebook ads in 2019, according to digital tracking firm Pathmatics. Combined, the nine companies spent $335 million on Facebook ads last year, according to a Media Matters estimate.
A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Facebook has said in previous statements that it's working with advertisers during the boycott to understand their concerns.
The new Media Matters report comes a week after the Wall Street Journal revealed that Disney also quietly slashed Facebook ad spending in July without announcing the decision. Disney reportedly spent $210 million on Facebook ads in the first half of 2020 alone.
The advertiser boycott was initially started by civil rights groups to protest Facebook's handling of President Donald Trump's posts in the wake of George Floyd's death, as well as the spread of misinformation and hate speech on the platform. But ad executives told Business Insider that, for most advertisers, boycotting Facebook is less about politics than brand safety.
"Pulling money out isn't meant to be a punitive action towards Facebook," Elijah Harris, the senior vice president of paid social at IPG Mediabrands, said last month. "It's more for us to assess, as marketers and arbiters of our brands' equity, whether we should continue defaulting to a platform that stands in opposition to consumer sentiment today."
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