Meta Morphosis: How Ad-Free Social Media Could Impact Retail

Meta, by way of Instagram and Facebook, has begun offering ad-free subscription options in Europe. Starting at €9.99 per month, Instagram and Facebook users throughout the European Union can now scroll to their heart’s content without ever worrying about seeing another ad ever again.

On the surface, this move may seem like a ho-hum response by Meta to the European Union’s concerns about its data collection and privacy practices (which no doubt it is), but there is far more to the long-term implications of this headline than keeping the European authorities at bay.

Should the concept take hold, particularly here in the U.S., it could herald a big shift in the retail advertising landscape.

The Rise Of Influencers And Retail Media Networks

As users begin to embrace Facebook and Instagram ad-free subscriptions worldwide, one should expect at least some natural decline in the traditional ad spend on these platforms, and, as a result, two parties stand to benefit the most from this change — influencers and the best of the best omnichannel retailers.

For example, the power of the influencer has been gaining steam for some time now, and the best influencers already have dedicated followings across social media. Ad-free social media will not impact this one iota. Meaning, Joe and Jane consumer will still be following the same influencers across whatever versions of Instagram, with ads or without ads, they choose.

The influencer then will be catapulted to the forefront of nearly every marketing strategy, as he or she will likely be seen as a bona fide outlet for any brand that wants to drive visibility in a less ad-centric social media landscape.

By a similar token, the best omnichannel retailers are also in position to reap similar rewards for a couple of reasons.

First, direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies, who have historically leveraged targeted social ads to reach their audiences, and who have already been feeling the negative impact of Apple’s own privacy changes over the last few years, will now find it even more difficult to generate a return from these very same tactics.


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