Detailed. User-Friendly. Cost Effective. Facebook advertising is widely considered the method for getting the best bang for your buck when promoting your business – with more than two billion monthly Facebook users and 500 million daily users on Instagram (they’re integrated for seamless advertising on both channels). However, this powerful marketing tool looks a bit different than it did just six months ago.
Whether you’ve been advertising on Facebook for years or you’re a beginner just getting your feet wet with Facebook ads, there are some recent updates to the platform you should be aware of as you move forward.
The Removal of “Partner Categories”
Launched in 2013, the Partner Categories feature enabled Facebook advertisers to further refine ad targeting with big data from partners like Acxiom and Epsilon. This detailed targeting included offline demographic and behavioral information previously unavailable to small business owners, like homeownership and purchase history. It was considered a great option for businesses without access to customer data to create their own custom audiences, but it left Facebook users feeling vulnerable and that their privacy had been violated.
This feature is currently being phased out permanently. Last month, Partner Categories were no longer available in advertising campaign creation, editing or duplication. On October 1, 2018, no advertising campaigns will deliver to previous Partner Categories.
Why the change? Two main reasons:
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – the primary law in the European Union regulating how companies protect citizens’ personal data – went into effect this past spring.
- Also this past spring, you may recall seeing negative press about Facebook mishandling third-party data during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. At least, you remember the birth of the “Mark Zuckerberg is a robot” memes.
What now? Utilize your existing data. Upload your current customer list to Facebook to create a Custom Audience, and use that data to create Lookalike Audiences (which will target people similar to your current customers). You can also still target based on other data Facebook collects for its Core Audiences – which reach people based on certain demographics, location, interests and behaviors. Learn more about Facebook ad targeting here.
The Elimination of 5,000 Ad Targeting Options
Another big change in Facebook advertising includes the removal of 5,000 targeting options from its custom audience tools. This update was made to prevent discriminatory advertisements from running on the platform. In a recent blog post, Facebook said:
We’re committed to protecting people from discriminatory advertising on our platforms. That’s why we’re removing over 5,000 targeting options to help prevent misuse. While these options have been used in legitimate ways to reach people interested in a certain product or service, we think minimizing the risk of abuse is more important. This includes limiting the ability for advertisers to exclude audiences that relate to attributes such as ethnicity or religion.
Why the change? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a complaint against Facebook last month for allowing discrimination in targeted ads related to housing.
For example, the complaint states: “Facebook enables advertisers to discriminate based on national origin by not showing ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in ‘Latin America,’ ‘Southeast Asia,’ ‘China,’ ‘Honduras,’ ‘Somalia,’ ‘the Hispanic National Bar Association’ or ‘Mundo Hispanico.’” It also says that Facebook advertisers could discriminate based on sex, disability, familial status, religion, and race and color.
This was allowing advertisers to violate the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits the discrimination of potential renters or homebuyers by landlords and sellers.
What now? More than 5,000 targeting options are being removed to prevent misuse. Also, while Facebook has previously required advertisers offering housing, employment or credit ads to certify compliance with its non-discrimination policy, the new certification will roll out to all U.S. advertisers via the Ad Manager tool. The company stated:
Advertisers will be required to complete this certification in order to continue advertising on Facebook. We’ve designed this education in consultation with outside experts to underscore the difference between acceptable ad targeting and ad discrimination.
Facebook may have more updates in the coming months as they continue to refine their tools. We’ll be sure to share any other major changes, so stay tuned!
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