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Facebook Is Removing Powerful Ad Targeting Options - Here's What to Do

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The digital world is rumbling as a result of the recent Facebook data scandal. A quick synopsis: Facebook essentially allowed a third party to collect and use data in a way that could have influenced U.S. voters. This is why we can’t have nice things.

As the smoke clears from this fiasco, Facebook is left with a tough choice on what it can, and should, do to prove to people that the company's serious about data security and privacy. After all, if users don’t trust Facebook, then they won’t use Facebook anymore. And if users leave Facebook, there won't be anyone left to advertise to, and generate revenue from.

As a good faith gesture, Facebook announced it will be stripping out third-party ad targeting options which have been built into it's advanced audience options, including supplemental audience data from companies like Axiom or Experian. These options are called Partner Categories, and can be very powerful when looking to reach users based on the actions they take outside of Facebook. Using this third-party data is common in the advertising world, however Facebook was linked to an entity using these powers in a nefarious way, so Facebook got into trouble.

With Partner Categories, advertisers have been able to target people who were frequent buyers, in the market for a new vehicle, in certain job roles, or more likely to relocate. This behavioral data can be hugely valuable when trying to meet users with the right marketing message, and at the right time in the consideration process. As such, Facebook's announcement is not great news for brands relying on this information.

But all is not lost - there are still impactful ways to reach your target market with Facebook advertising.

Here are some alternate targeting options to keep in mind.

Interest Targeting

Facebook collects data based on what users interact with on the platform, and then places those users into buckets based on interests. This is probably the most basic way to target users with Facebook ads, however, the categories are built based on actual user behavior - so it’s a good starting point.

Advanced Geo-Targeting

Everyone knows that users can be targeted in a specific location with Facebook ads, however most don’t realize that you can also target people who live in a specific area, people who are traveling in a specific location, or people who were recently in a specific location.

This can be useful for zeroing in on where your target market is frequenting, or spending a good amount of time. It's not a perfect solution, but definitely a good option.

Website Custom Audience

Go ahead and install the Facebook Pixel on your website so that you can begin retargeting people. Take the next step and create a Lookalike Audience from that group so you can prospect for business with Facebook users that behave like your website visitors.

A Lookalike Audience is a cost-effective, and targeted way to prospect for more business.

Email Custom Audience

You can upload your email list into Facebook to match users on the platform and serve them ads. This is a great way to leverage your own data and expand your cone of influence by building a Lookalike Audience off of this list.

(NOTE: Facebook is also looking to add qualifiers onto data uploaded by marketers to ensure they have user permission, so that will also soon be a consideration with any lists you add in.

Engagement Custom Audience

What better way to nudge users closer to conversion than by targeting those who've already engaged with your content?

You can create a custom audience of users who've watched your videos, interacted with your page, interacted with your Instagram profile, or even interacted with your events. By putting these users into an audience, you can focus on a highly targeted group of individuals who've already expressed interest in your brand.

Even with all the drama and turmoil from losing Partner Categories, there are still some high-quality ways in which brands can target users on Facebook.

Don’t buy into the hype that you should delete your Page or give up altogether - using the tactics outlined here, you'll definitely make an impact with your target customers on Facebook.


Article and image(s) via Social Media Today

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