Facebook Ads | Facebook Ad Targeting Changes

August 13, 2018

As one of the most targeted forms of advertising available anywhere, Facebook ads is at the very top of my list when it comes to paid marketing options – both on and off Facebook.

If you aren’t familiar with Facebook ads, or you would like a bit of a 101 overview, please head back to the Facebook 101 episode, which is a fabulous overview of the Facebook ads platform.

In this episode, we are going to dive specifically into Facebook targeting, and in particular some Facebook ad targeting changes that have come into effect over the past couple of weeks.

So, let’s dive in!

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On Facebook, it has traditionally been possible to use their ad platform to target three different categories of people with Facebook ads:

1. Facebook’s Data::

Essentially, this is the data that people voluntarily enter into Facebook, and it includes things like the pages that they like, their jobs, their relationship status and their date of birth.

2. Your Own Data::

Known as custom audiences, this refers to the ability Facebook gives you to upload your own information into Facebook. This includes the email databases you own – which Facebook will then link up with email addresses in their system to allow you to serve ads to them. There are also lookalike audiences, which are audiences that Facebook makes of people similar to your custom audiences.

3. Partner categories::

Essentially, these are categories of targeting made available through partnerships that Facebook had with third party providers, like Axiom. Through these partnerships, Facebook has been able to tap into some very specific information which it has then on-sold to Facebook advertisers to use to serve ads to specific categories of people.

Facebook Ad Targeting Changes

Essentially, there are two BIG Facebook ad targeting changes that have come about recently.

1. Partner categories deleted::

The first big change is the deletion of what is known as ‘partner categories’, which is the third category above. We will go through what these were, why they were deleted and what this means for those who had used them in the past.

2. New + re-introduced targeting options::

The second big change is the addition of some new, and some re-introduced targeting options. Some of these really are fabulous, and will serve advertisers very well. We will go through what they are and how they can be used.

Facebook Ad Targeting Change #1:: Deletion of Partner Categories

Let’s start with the ‘bad’ news first – or at least, the bad news as far as advertisers are concerned!

As of the 15th of August, quite a few Facebook targeting options were deleted.

These changes came about for a number of reasons, the biggest being the Cambridge Analytica scandal [changes to privacy in Europe via the GDPR have also played a part].

If you have been watching the news at all in the past little while, you would be at least partially familiar with this because you would have seen Mark Zuckerberg’s interrogation by the Senate, the Russians buying Facebook ads to influence the US election and so on.

If you’re not 100% clear on this, here’s what happened:: In 2013, a researcher from Cambridge University created a personality quiz which, as a result of Facebook’s privacy policy at that time, gave him access to the data of tens of millions of users.

A year later, Facebook tightened its privacy policy to disallow this happening and to put stricter limitations on data acquisition.

By then it was too late, this developer – and others – already had a whole lot of data on people and it was sold by this developer in particular to Cambridge Analytica.

It’s alleged that this data was used by Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign and Russia to sway the election.

Facebook was in huge hot water as a result, has been interrogated by the Senate and has taken a LOT of proactive action to increase privacy measures on the platform.

One of these? The deletion of partner categories.

This is in many ways unfortunate for Facebook advertisers.

Some of the things that could previously have been targeted in the past through partner categories were the type of car a person owned, income levels, whether a person was likely to be moving, whether they were a business traveler and there were many more.

Here’s how effective this sort of information could be, using real estate partner categories as an example.

Previously, it was possible to target whether a person was likely to be a first home buyer, upsizing, downsizing. For a real estate agents, this meant they were able to target ads to people likely to be selling a particular type of home – powerful stuff, right?

As of the 15th, this opportunity is gone.

Now, it’s still possible to get this information and to use it to advertise. However, it now involves going to straight to the third party data provider – for example, Axiom or Experian – and purchasing it for use in Facebook. Unfortunately, this is an expensive exercise – and really is only an option for big business.

So, what does this all mean?

Well, it means less targeting options. It means making greater use of the other targeting options available – things like targeting competitor pages, layering different targeting options, testing.

That’s the bottom line.

It doesn’t change the fact that Facebook has huge targeting potential, and that it is still super valuable.

It just means that we are now limited to either uploading our own data into Facebook, and targeting based on what Facebook knows about us because we have told them – which really, is a lot!

Facebook Ad Targeting Change #2: New Categories

And now for the GOOD news.

Facebook has just introduced – or re-introduced – a number of fresh Facebook ad targeting options, some of which I am particularly excited about!

Let’s run through them:

  • Page Admins:: Facebook has introduced the ability to target anyone who is the admin of a business page. This could be a VERY good one! It allows you to also drill down by the type of admin you are.

For example, it allows you to target anyone who is the admin of a business page. News flash:: This is VERY good for anyone that is looking to target BUSINESS OWNERS with ads. I will most certainly be using this option in the future.

It also allows targeting of food and beverage page admins, sports page admins, community page admins, travel and tourism page admins and MORE – all very useful depending on your business and your ideal client!

You can get these by navigating to Behaviours → Digital activities → Facebook page admins in the targeting options section of Facebook. If you are on the run and want to get these later, head to thecoursecartel.com/32 and you can get your hands on all of them.

  • Employer and Job Title targeting:: These used to be around, and were taken away. They are back, and I am very happy about it!

Employer targeting allows you to type in the name of an employer, and serve ads to anyone that has listed themselves as working for that employer. I have previously used this in recruitment campaigns where I have been wanting to target certain companies with a job ad.

With this targeting, I have been able to list every real estate agency in Brisbane and serve them with ads about new positions for real estate agents and property managers.

This could also be gold for anyone in B2B. Imagine serving an ad about your product or service to every single person in a company as a way to get the right persons attention!

This targeting function is available in the Demographics > Work > Employers section.

Job title targeting is also back. This means you can target people by their job title. Again, very useful for B2B and for those looking to target particular positions with their product or service.

This available at Demographics > Work > Job Titles.

  • School + Field of Study Targeting:: The third targeting option which is back is School and Field of Study targeting.

Similar to employer targeting, this allows you to target people by what university they go to and also by their field of study.

Both very useful for companies with those demographics as their target market!

They can be accessed at Demographics > Education > Schools and Demographics > Education > Fields of Study.

So there you have it!

As with everything in social media marketing, things in Facebook Ad land are constantly changing. As marketers and business owners, we must adapt.

Some of these Facebook Ad targeting changes are positive and some of course will mean needing to get more creative.

Hopefully knowing about them will assist you with your Facebook ad strategy, and more encourage you to get involved and testing!

Keep Listening!

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