6 Ways Facebook's Recent Targeting Changes Impact Advertisers

Facebook has announced that large-scale changes will be forthcoming for certain Facebook advertisers as a result of a settlement in March of this year with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others about Facebook's discriminatory ad-targeting options.

Since late 2016, Facebook has faced legal pressure from the ACLU, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and other civil rights groups and fair housing organizations. According to the ACLU, advertisers were able to exclude Facebook users from receiving job, housing, or credit ads based on race, sex, age, or other protected classes, in violation of federal and state civil rights laws.

Settlement Agreement

As a result of the lawsuit settlement, Facebook is restructuring its advertising API requirements for Facebook advertising campaigns. Under the agreement, Facebook has committed to taking internal steps to adjust its targeting policies in order to avoid any kind of discriminatory practices against users for all advertising campaigns that deliver job, housing, or credit ads.

Through this process, Facebook is overhauling several categories of ads that could unfairly target selected audiences.

Specifically, Facebook has set up a special advertising category to deal with any ads that fall under the housing, employment, or credit category. Under those categories, Facebook will get rid of any targeting that is age-based and gender-based, along with other options targeted for certain Facebook groups for advertisers trying to gain similar audiences. Further, in this category, targeting a specific zip code under a 15-mile area is no longer available to advertisers.

What's Ahead for Advertisers?

The new rules are currently being rolled out. Here are six key areas that advertisers working in these categories need to be aware of in the coming months:

●       Starting in September, advertisers have to declare if their ads fall under this umbrella special advertising category. If so, they will have far fewer user targeting options available.

●       Facebook has set a December 4 deadline for developers and advertisers to comply with the new ad category designation. Ads in housing, employment, and credit areas that have not yet started with the new ad category will be paused by Facebook for non-compliance.

●       Advertisers running certain types of ads (relating to credit, housing, and employment) can no longer target consumers based on ZIP code, age, or gender.

●       Advertisers running these specific types of ads will have access to a much narrower set of targeting categories overall.

●       Organic targeted posts are now available for targeting users with "top fan" classification.

●       Custom audience reach estimates are coming back.

At the bottom of its announcement, Facebook encourages advertisers to reach for broader ad targeting rather than restrictive or biased targeting, saying that this will help them to find new audiences. As Facebook continues to encounter ongoing scrutiny, they will likely continue to adjust their policies to meet upcoming regulation changes.