How is The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Data Breach Changing The Face of Digital Marketing in 2018?

Cambridge Analytica Data Breach

Last month, the entire web and print media was abuzz with news of breach and betrayal. It all started when The New York Times and The Observer of London came out with confirmed reports of a data breach of over 50 million Facebook users. This clandestine campaign involved extracting user data and leveraging them for the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, unlawfully used the data to influence the US presidential campaign as well as influence the 2016 Brexit Vote.

These were both international events with extensive global impacts. This raised rightful concerned about data privacy of the citizens and the neutrality of such high impact political events. Both events have the power of shaping nations and national policies. In fact, it is safe to say that both these events are currently affecting international relationships, the global share market and economies of several nations.

The firm used the data to develop tools that could demystify personalities of American voters and influence their decisions. According to the New York Times, “Cambridge Analytica developed techniques that laid the foundations of Trump’s campaign in 2016”.


What is the Cambridge Analytica data breach?

Several theories try to explain the data collection process Cambridge Analytica used. As per the reports from The Guardian, they used an application, “thisisyourdigitallife” by Aleksandr Kogan. He worked on this app separately after this work at Cambridge University. His application urged users to take a “personality test,” whose results were to be used for academic purposes. Hundreds of thousands of people agreed to volunteer their personal information to Global Science Research (GSR). Little did they know that the owner of GSR, Kogan was forwarding their information to Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm aiming to improve (manipulate) the outcomes of the campaign and later, Brexit Vote.

If you are already spooked about the violation of privacy, wait till you get to the next part. After the 270,000 people volunteered their information, Cambridge Analytica gained access to the data of their friends and mutual friends. Eventually, they had the data from 50 million Facebook profiles that they used to create voter personalities in both scenarios. During that time, contemporary data policies of Facebook allowed applications to collect data from the users only to improve the user experience (UX). No application could use the data for selling or even use it for advertising. Cambridge Analytica was primarily accused of obtaining the data from Kogan in the guise of research.


What is Facebook doing to right the wrong?

Off late, the landscape of Facebook is changing fast. Mark Zuckerberg’s crown jewel has removed third-party data management tools and integrations like Experian, Acxiom, and Oracle. Advertisers no longer have access to the user’s offline data and social media usage traits. Facebook has blocked the addition of new integrations and plugins from joining their platform. In addition to these changes, Facebook has also declared the advent of new updates that will provide complete control of data privacy to the users.


The recent data breach leak is terrible news for Facebook and digital marketers

Although this is excellent news for all Facebook users, it might not be such a significant update for the online marketers. A huge part of current social media marketing policies involved leveraging user data from social media platforms. A big chunk of the digital advertising revenue comes from social networking channels like Facebook. In fact, in 2018, about 19.6% of the total digital ad revenue came from Facebook. With the new data policies, it looks like it is again the time for Affordable SEO for creating successful social media campaigns. Organic SEO is the only way left for small businesses and startups to boost their visibility on the web.


How can you modify your ad campaigns on Facebook?

As of this moment, digital advertising campaigns that rely on FB are not taking an immediate hit. That is partly because their target users are still unaware of the fact that their personal data was at stake even a couple of months ago. However, the ignorance is not going to be everlasting and the last two quarters of 2018 might not see the best investment reports from Zuckerberg. Therefore, brands already engaged in digital marketing efforts on FB need to revamp a few of their strategies to stay visible and reliable.

  1. Brands should start investing in content marketing strategies. It has always worked better than cold calling and push-selling. With the raging wave of mistrust, people are more likely to turn towards brands with a robust online presence. Make yourself organically visible and not just on Facebook. Optimize your content with long-tailed keywords and share interesting snippets from time to time.
  2. Develop strong influencer relationships. It will help you generate more views and responses exponentially without relying on paid advertising or applications. Through social media influencers, you can promote the link to your seller website or your products.


What can you do if you have already invested big bucks in Facebook marketing?

There are several entrepreneurs and marketers, who have already invested a fortune in Facebook advertising. Alas! The market does not look very forgiving, and this streak may continue up until Facebook introduces a revolutionary data policy reform that wipes out the persistent data breach threats.

  1. Pulling out is not an option right now. You can revisit your Facebook marketing plan and outline your marketing objective. Next, ensure that you only focus on the particular goals such as brand awareness, traffic, views, and conversions.
  2. Do not squander your riches on the “boost post” option. You might be tempted to try to boost your visibility since the ground is apparently clear and there is noticeably lesser competition. However, it is safer to stick to Google AdWords and your website SEO right now.


Thanks to the Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower and the #deletefacebook movement, more people are following the footsteps of Elon Musk and deleting their Facebook profiles. Several applications are suffering the brunt of users and Facebook data security team. It is a big jolt in the quiescent lives of social network users who were either unaware or asleep during the data breaches. The impact on digital marketing is impossible to assess and predict right now. There is a chance that larger companies will not change their digital marketing stance on the leading social networking site. It is also true that the smaller companies and start-ups will associate with other platforms including Google AdWords, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram to keep their brand image safe.