What Facebook's Targeting Option Elimination Means for Ad Campaigns

iStock-942150078.jpg

 Recently, Facebook announced it was removing more than 5,000 options for ad targeting in an effort to protect users from discriminatory advertising. Paired with Facebook's spring announcement about the changes in custom audiences, this development has some advertisers worried about the implications for campaigns and reaching consumers.

A Change in Strategy

Once a powerful ad targeting feature, its removal deals a mighty blow to business owners and marketers. Third-party data providers are no longer a viable source, and advertisers don't have the luxury of creating ad targeting based on user data (previously captured both on and off Facebook's platform).

Will this affect audience targeting and social media strategies? The exclusions aren't the end of the platform's ad wars. Fortunately, there are strategies you can still use to reach your target market with Facebook advertising.

Geo-Targeted Advertising

Facebook ads give advertisers the flexibility to target people based on specific location, providing a way to create ads relevant to where an audience is located. Geo-targeting lets you customize and refine options to target an audience most likely to take an interest in your business as well.

Custom Audiences

Here's what geo-targeting does:

●      Engagement: It drives users closer to conversion and targets those who have engaged with your brand. A custom audience is easily created from people who have watched a specific video, for instance. 

Interaction through a social media profile, event, or web page is a good opportunity to nudge people further into the sales funnel. There's no better way to assemble highly targeted individuals than to select those who have already shown interest. 

●      Contact lists: Got a customer list or site data collected via subscriptions from your site? Leverage this data and expand the reach by uploading lists directly into Facebook. Then serve ads to people you know on the platform. If you're working with a smaller custom audience, you can always test the creative methods used to determine which one gets the best response from audiences. Increasing CPM (cost per thousand impressions) bids is yet another alternative to better reach your custom audience.

●      Websites: If you're unfamiliar with Facebook Pixel, now's the time to get acquainted. A snippet of code installed on your website helps to optimize ads based on collected data, create targeted ads for future use, track ad conversions, and remarket to people who've taken some form of action on your site.

Take it one step further with the implementation of a lookalike audience from the same data. This way you can prospect for new customers who match the behaviors of your website visitors in specific geographic areas.

Targeted Interests

Facebook still collects data based on what users interact with while on the platform. The information is segmented according to a user's interests. Since the categories are built on real-time user behavior, using this feature is a good place to start. 

Alternative Advertising Methods

Think the use of third-party data is exclusive to Facebook? Internet giants such as Google use data and targeting options on their own terms. Currently there are no defined regulations regarding the transparency of information collected by third-party providers. Until this changes, advertisers have the green light to access information on other platforms, too.

For example, if annual income plays a major role in your targeting strategy, sites such as Bing or LinkedIn could be beneficial because users on these sites tend to be from high income brackets.

Google Adwords is another can't-miss opportunity. It remains a leader in advertising, and its targeting approaches could help fill the gap caused by Facebook's third-party data removal.

DIY First-Party Data Collection

Most small businesses may not have extensive customer data, so the impact of Facebook's change will probably be felt a lot harder. Facebook once offered avenues to target customers using specific data without collecting it independently. Now, spending more time and effort is necessary for business owners who want to enrich their first-party data stockpiles.

It's just a matter of boosting creativity as a workaround to:

●      Set up landing pages to collect contact information.

●      Beef up email marketing campaigns by running surveys.

●      Engage more with social followers.

In other words, consider going back to the basics. 

What was your strategy before Facebook existed? What if you used an advanced form of interest-based targeting? Brainstorm ideas on how to implement "friends of" segmenting for a change of pace in strategy.

What about retargeting? This is one way to achieve higher conversion rates, and is usually far more successful than demographic-based advertising.

Facebook ad targeting options are changing the landscape of all things digital marketing. Despite this most recent setback, Facebook is still in the business of keeping advertisers happy, so don't lose hope. Meanwhile, make the right adjustments to stay on top of your marketing game.