Facebook targeting

Facebook’s Data Drama: How Will It Affect Advertisers?

Last updated on: 2018


If you are active on Facebook, you’ve no doubt been made aware of the breach of user data by third party companies, most notably during the last presidential election. (Need a refresh? Check this out for a rundown of the most important information.) Allowing user data to be compromised like this has shaken the social giant to its core and has forced Facebook to reconsider the access brands currently have to user information and how they utilize it for advertising purposes. The company has promised to put into effect new policies regarding using user information, all which will be rolled out globally by October 1st, 2018 (see below the full timeline of new policy implementation).

Facebook Changes Timeline

How Will These Policies Affect How Brands Advertise on Facebook and Instagram?

Keep reading to see what changes Facebook is making in the upcoming months.

Removing Partner Categories

Partner categories, based on public and private third-party data provider targeting segments, will cease to exist as of May 25th for EU-based audiences and as of October 1st for non-EU-based audiences. This means that targeting segments based on offline demographic and behavioral information gathered by vendors such as Experian and Oracle Data Cloud, like purchase history, homeownership, and occupation, will no longer be readily available. This means, in order to obtain such information on users, businesses will have to privately contract third-party vendors to create specific lists for purchase. If a business chooses to contract and purchase a custom list, advertisers for the business may then upload the audience into their ads manager for use only on that specific ad account. (See the Custom Audience Permission Tools section for more information.)

Custom Audiences

Custom audiences, based on lists of your current customers, will still be available, but with some changes. These audiences can include data pulled directly from your website, including purchaser information or email subscribers. Starting July 1st, Facebook will implement restrictions on sharing audiences between different Business Manager accounts. Additionally, advertisers will have to prove they have the rights and permissions to use the data in their advertising.  

Custom audiences that are uploaded by a third-party source and shared with advertisers will no longer be available as of July 1st.

Custom Audience Permissions Tools

As a part of the updated data policy, Facebook will be introducing a new permissions tool in May that ensures advertisers have obtained the correct consent for the data they are uploading into Business Manager accounts.

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike audiences, created from audiences that an advertiser has created including targets from third-party lists, will be affected by the new protective changes as well. Because this information is now protected, advertisers will no longer be able to drill into these categories to find other active users who resemble users they have previously been able to access.  

Lookalike Audience Permission Tools

In order to continue utilizing lookalike audiences, make sure you delete any targets that will no longer be accessible over the span of the next few months within your audiences.  Then, create lookalike audiences at higher percentages (5% to 10% lookalikes) for a broader reach into the allowed targets.

Facebook targeting

What Isn’t Changing?

If you utilize lookalike audiences specific to your brand’s backend data (audiences that are the most similar to the people who engage with your posts, convert to website traffic and are actively recognized through your website standard pixels), audiences based off of your email subscriber lists and core audiences (based on demographic information and interests users list publicly on their profile and engagements), fear not. These types of audiences will not be changing and will require no extra permissions as they are based off of information that is publicly available through individual profiles and your own brand data.

How Do I Advertise Without These Audiences?

The removal of public and private partner categories and managed custom audiences is just another challenge for advertisers calling for an extra dose of creativity. One idea is to focus on gathering more customer information on your website that you can then utilize in creating custom audiences. To do this, be sure to stay on top of cleaning your email lists, making sure your website pixels are firing on each page of your site, and updating lookalike audiences based off of your data. Additionally, check out this article to find out other ways to optimize your advertisements to make sure you continue to see the ROI you’ve come to expect working with Facebook.

What are your thoughts on the new advertising policies on Facebook? How do you foresee the changes affecting your digital advertising strategy? Let us know in the comments below!

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Becca is a copywriter, copy editor, and content manager at Taylor & Pond. Originally from Montana, she has a passion for the outdoors as well as good books, grammar, coffee, and the Oxford comma. In her spare time, Becca enjoys doing crosswords, taking spin classes, watching sports, and spending time with good friends.