Save the date for January 19th! Meta has announced that changes to audience targeting will be made to Facebook ad campaigns.
In response to industry pressure, Facebook parent company Meta is sticking to its earlier promise and reducing advertiser targeting options.
This is also indicative of a larger pattern.
On the one hand, a high level of targeting precision facilitates the creation of highly personalized experiences that enable relevant and valuable user interaction.
Simultaneously, there is an increase in sensitivity when people are identified based on their affiliation to social causes, health conditions, or demographic characteristics.
Taking this into consideration, Facebook is limiting advertising options by no longer allowing targeting based on these sensitive parameters.
What’s New in Facebook Ad Targeting?
Beginning January 19, Facebook will discontinue targeting options in four major categories, as well as niche segments that are rarely used.
- Health causes (e.g. breast cancer awareness).
- Sexual orientation (e.g. LGBT).
- Religious practices and groups (e.g. Catholic Church ).
- Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, or figures (e.g. political party or political candidate).
According to Meta’s update on the upcoming changes, campaigns can continue to deliver to impacted audience targets until late March 2022.
Furthermore, the changes will not be fully propagated throughout the Meta ecosystem.
You will be able to make campaign-level edits, such as budget amounts or campaign names, for ad sets created prior to January 19, without affecting targeting until March 17.
Edits at the ad set level, on the other hand, will result in audience changes.
Similarly, if an ad set is paused before March 17, the new targeting changes will take effect when it is reactivated.
Prior campaigns that use deprecated targeting settings will no longer be editable after March 17.
You may need to revise the detailed targeting settings before March 17 in order to make changes at the campaign, ad set, or ad level.
Will Social Advertisers Have a Greater Impact?
It will be interesting to see if other social media platforms follow suit and adjust their targeting capabilities as well. So far, Meta has been subjected to more scrutiny than other platforms.
Other social platforms risk drawing the same scrutiny as Facebook if they do not review and potentially reduce their targeting granularity across sensitive criteria.
You can expect them to shift their targeting away from personal characteristics in the near future.
Meta has not stated whether it plans to make additional targeting changes or if this will be the only change in the near future.
Still, you can take solace in the fact that Meta is responding to the increasing vocal feedback and hope that it will continue to keep track of future developments.
While this has primarily been discussed in the context of social media, programmatic and search advertising providers should also exercise caution.
Historically, these vehicles have made extensive use of data, allowing for high levels of targeting precision and granular insights through the use of demographic, socioeconomic, and other parameters.
In light of the foregoing developments, these players may be forced to address the sensitivity of granular ad targeting and reporting directly (as soon as implications from cookie deprecation gain momentum).
From social issues arising as a result of profiling to the larger trend of data privacy concerns, advertising platforms, and advertisers must be prepared to address sensitive topics.