In case you missed it, on January 19, Facebook rolled out changes to its detailed targeting options for advertisers. In a blog post explaining the update, Vice President for Product Marketing (Ads) Graham Mudd said the company is removing parameters that “people may perceive as sensitive.” As of writing, the platform no longer offers Facebook ads targeting options in the following main categories:
• Health causes (e.g., “breast cancer awareness”)
• Sexual orientation (e.g., “same-sex marriage”)
• Religious practices and groups (e.g., “Catholic Church”)
• Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations and figures
Brands and businesses creating social media ads on Facebook have benefited greatly from its hyper-targeting features. These powerful tools have allowed them to deliver personalized experiences to advertising audiences.
But Meta, the social network’s parent company, also faces ongoing pressure from the public to address past abuses of the very targeting options it has made available – and prevent future ones.
Hence, the changing of Facebook Ads rules. If you have existing campaigns, you might be wondering how these changes may affect you. In this blog, we shed light on this update by answering these questions:
• Who exactly is affected by the update?
• How does it affect present and future campaigns?
• How to target audience on Facebook Ads from hereon
The Real Deal: More Details on Facebook Advertising Targeting Options
Detailed targeting on Facebook for Business, now Meta for Business, allows advertisers to define their audience based on multiple categories. It lets you reach people according to certain demographics, interests, behaviors and more. However, with the recent Facebook Ads policy update, you can no longer add health causes like “lung cancer awareness” or religious practices like “Jewish holidays” to refine your targeting.
If you’re creating Facebook political ads, you can also no longer use detailed qualifiers such as “likely engagement with U.S. political content (conservative, moderate or liberal).” This is particularly true for thousands of detailed targeting options.
On top of removing these parameters, you can no longer find Facebook ads targeting options that are redundant or too granular.
This move was championed by “civil rights experts, policymakers and other stakeholders,” who had voiced concerns about these very options being used to target underrepresented groups, leading to negative experiences like:
• More addiction
• Mental distress
• Negative influence on behavior
But this is also Meta’s attempt to address ever-evolving privacy regulations and prepare for the upcoming European Union (EU) ban on advertisers’ pervasive tracking activities – AKA the mining of people’s digital activity to help personalize the ads they receive.
Who’s Most Affected by the Facebook Ads Policy Update?
In contrast to the potential privacy violation risks, there are positive use cases for Facebook advertising targeting options. These include:
• Small businesses targeting niche audiences
• Nonprofits reaching more people to raise funds
• Organizations raising awareness for their advocacies
Last year, Meta’s Mudd said the updated targeting would have a significant impact on these groups.
There are many very positive use cases for these targeting options. Small businesses use them to market products to specific customers. Non-profits use them to raise funds. Advocacy orgs use them to raise awareness. (2/3)
— Graham Mudd (@grahammudd) November 9, 2021
Further, brands and businesses whose messaging revolves around certain issues may no longer continue targeting individuals based on these criteria.
What Should You Do to Current Campaigns Using These Options?
The most recent changes to Facebook Ads rules have been in effect since January 19. But individuals and organizations using Facebook advertising services can still edit their affected ad set’s detailed targeting before March 27, 2022.
Your in-house or partner Facebook Ads agency should also be able to check the deprecated targeting terms API and evaluate their ad sets’ targeting specifications against the targeting status API. This is to check object IDs or terms that may cause a pause in the delivery of their campaigns or ad sets.
Further, you can still duplicate ad sets until March 17 for most targeting segments, except for a subset of targeting options.
After the last day of making edits or duplicates, the sensitive parameters will be rendered unavailable and invalid by the API, causing a pause on your ad sets until you remove them and apply the necessary changes.
To avoid errors that might derail your social media campaigns, work with an experienced Facebook ads specialist. They should be able to help with Facebook Ads by showing how to navigate this tricky terrain.
Staying on Top of the Changes: Facebook Advertising Tips
Brands and businesses can continue creating social media ads with the latest targeting limits. Having a Facebook Ads expert on your team can help you adjust campaign details and make the transition easier.
Here are a few quick Facebook advertising tips for those affected the most by the updates:
Leverage Engagement Custom Audiences
One of the more advanced Facebook advertising targeting options, this specified Custom Audience is designed to reach people who have liked your page. It also has a subset called Video View Engagement Custom Audiences, targeted at those who have watched your videos that may have appeared on their News Feed.
This leans on direct interest in or prior engagement with the advertiser’s cause or messaging. So it is ideal for businesses connecting with customers or nonprofit organizations looking to drive donations.
Use Website Custom Audiences
Similar in concept to the above, this option allows you to target people who have engaged with your website by matching them with people on Facebook. This is only possible if you have installed the Facebook pixel on your site.
To maximize the number of users who will find Facebook ads from your campaigns, segment your website traffic into several groups, such as those who visited a product page but didn’t complete a purchase. Then build a campaign that speaks specifically to this custom audience.
Build Lookalike Audiences
Let existing customers help with Facebook ads targeting. This means reaching out to people who share similar characteristics with your current audience.
You can take any of the custom audience types as a source audience for your lookalike audience. Meta allows you to set the percentage range for how close your lookalike group is to the source. It also recommends efficient use of lookalikes by limiting your audience size to 1,000-5,000, or to your best customers vs. all customers.
Apply Location Targeting
Facebook Ads rules still enable businesses, especially brick-and-mortar establishments, to target people within proximity to their stores. Meanwhile, online brands can reach those within the radius of their shipping capabilities. You can refine your ads this way for most campaign objectives available on the platform.
Update Your Social Issue or Political Ad Strategy
If somehow your business or organization engages in politics or social issues and wants to run an ad, you need to be an authorized advertiser of Facebook political ads. This is based on a separate Facebook Ads policy but is worth mentioning given the recent detailed targeting restrictions.
In a nutshell, you need to go through the authorization process, post a “Paid for by” disclaimer and enter your ads to the Ad Library if you want to create ads related to:
• U.S. social issues
• Political parties and/or figures
All things considered, your best bet in navigating the changes without needlessly revising entire campaigns is a team of experienced social media experts. They can help you handle different areas of advertising on the platform, from niche audience targeting to Facebook political ads authorization.
Get Help With Facebook Ads Targeting
Knowing how to target an audience on Facebook ads is an ever-evolving skill in light of broader changes in privacy regulations and the platform’s responses. While Facebook advertising services are here to stay, Facebook advertising tips, on the other hand, will evolve according to relevant policies and regulations.
You need to have an agile and dynamic Facebook advertising strategy to stay on top of your game. We’re aware this could be outside your comfort zone, so why don’t you partner with someone who can take you through the terrain and steer your campaigns in the right direction?
At Thrive, we have social media experts dedicated to building personalized experiences for your target audience. We are committed to creating social media ads that bring people the solution to their problems while respecting their privacy, beliefs or context. Our goal is to get them to find Facebook ads that truly speak to them and their situation.
Thrive is a Facebook ads agency that leverages white-hat tactics to expand your online presence and extend your reach to new prospects. Our ad strategists and specialists hold Facebook ads expert certification, and lending this expertise to you comes with a worthwhile price and optimal returns.
Speak with a Thrive Facebook ads specialist today to have a clearer understanding of how our solutions work.