Navigating Facebook’s Recent Ad Targeting Changes

Brands should base their ad targeting on rich, first-party customer data

For years, marketers have turned to Facebook to launch targeted ad campaigns to drive existing and new customers along a purchasing path. With the right mix of creative and targeting, brands can reach their intended audience at a relatively low cost per acquisition, making Facebook ads a viable marketing tactic for most companies.

Because of this and the fact that Facebook has 2.3B monthly active users, brands continue to allocate a large portion of their ad budget for Facebook ad campaigns. In 2019, Facebook’s digital ad revenue is expected to reach $67.5B — a $12B increase from 2018.

However, in order to achieve success on the platform and drive substantial revenue through an ad campaign, marketers need to focus on the successful execution of three main campaign components: the message, the creative and the audience.

Marketers have revealed that one of their biggest challenges is reaching their targeted audience. Facebook helps marketers accomplish this by grouping their targeting capabilities into what they call “core audiences” including location, demographics, interests, behavior and connections. Within these core audiences, there are 100s of targeting parameters to choose from.

Recently, however, Facebook has scaled back their available targeting criteria for specific industries, making it even more of a challenge for digital marketers to reach their intended audiences.

Below we’ve outlined some of the major targeting changes Facebook announced and highlighted ways to evolve your campaigns, so they won’t affect your digital ad strategy.

Examining Recent Facebook Ad Targeting Changes

Last month, Facebook announced that it has begun removing various targeting options for ads on its platforms for specific users in order to settle five discrimination lawsuits wagered against them. The targeting options that will be removed for certain industries include age, gender and zip code.

In addition to removing targeting options, Facebook is also limiting the capabilities of its “Lookalike Audience” tool, which allows business owners to reach a new audience based off of data from existing customers. The changes include:

  • Removing Facebook Group membership, age, and religious views for Lookalike Audience targeting criteria
  • Adding a 15-mile minimum radius from any specific address for geographical targeting

For brands in the housing, employment, and credit industries that are taking advantage of these targeting criteria directly through Facebook’s Ads Manager platform, this may be a surprising and unwelcome change.

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The question that remains, now, is how should brands evolve their digital strategy to continue to reach their intended audience? Thankfully, there are still other ways to leverage customer data in order to effectively reach potential and existing customers through Facebook.

Data Straight from the Source

The most reliable practice for obtaining data for use in hyper-targeted campaigns is by acquiring it directly from your customers. MVPindex’s Audience platform helps brands collect and enrich valuable first-party data from their customers for use in targeted, personalized marketing campaigns.

Many brands choose to create segments in the Audience platform for use in Facebook campaigns—bypassing Facebook’s broad targeting options and serving ads to a more exact segment of their audience based on valuable data. How do they accomplish this? It’s simple.

Perhaps a brand wants to target females, ages 25-34 who purchased something within the last year and also like Ariana Grande, who is an influencer partner for an upcoming campaign. They can easily create and export this segment and upload it to Facebook to create a Custom Audience (that serves ads directly to them) or a Lookalike Audience (that serves ads to a similar audience that is modeled after this same criteria).

By creating your own segments from rich first-party data and uploading them to Facebook, you can more effectively reach your target customer for a variety of reasons:

  • Facebook Ads Manager steers users to build broad segments, while segments built in the Audience platform are more precise and relevant based on user signals (thereby driving a lower cost per acquisition)
  • Facebook only offers 1-5 brand affinities per a defined category (i.e. – sports), while you can uncover 1,000+ brand affinities to target via segments in the Audience platform
  • Facebook doesn’t allow you to export the audience to remarket through other mediums (follow up email, retargeting on LinkedIn), which is easy to do in the Audience platform

Best of all, if you own the data, you know exactly who is in the segments you’re reaching through Facebook campaigns. On the flip side, if you generate an audience directly on the platform using Facebook’s Lookalike Audience tool, you will only see an estimated reach (e.g. 9,000 – 12,000 people) and not be able to see the email or direct profile of the people who are receiving your ad.

Because of the way you can create segments in the Audience platform, you can still effectively target customers based on age, gender and zip code. However, we recommend going beyond basic targeting and consider some of the following more niche segments that might be impactful for your business:

Reaching Your Customers

Facebook remains a powerful mechanism to reach new and existing customers at a low cost per acquisition. Digital marketers, however, need to be savvy in their efforts and ensure that their ads are being served to the right audience.

First-party data helps steer digital marketers in the right direction and provides a wealth of insights into how to structure targeted, high-impact campaigns that will drive revenue for their business. Brands need to start taking advantage of this data and leveraging it in their own campaigns to dramatically impact both their ROAS and bottom line.

By |2019-04-17T17:29:40-06:00April 17th, 2019|Blog Posts|0 Comments
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