The Implications Surrounding Facebook's Removal of Partner Category Ad Targeting

Back in March, Facebook announced that it would be shutting down targeting of ad campaigns via Partner Categories offered by third-party data providers like Acxiom, TransUnion, Oracle Data Cloud and Experian to improve protecting consumer data and privacy. This move came off the heels of the Cambridge Analytica breach surrounding third-party data mishandling as well as implications that would result from the GDPR.

First, an example of Partner Category targeting:

An automotive brand wants to reach people in the market to purchase a car. Partner Categories – using data based on people’s activities and behaviors away from Facebook – can help that brand reach those who are not only in the market for a car, but those who currently own a particular model purchased a specific number of years ago and perhaps earn a greater income today.

The Specifics

Up until June 30, 2018, Facebook advertisers will be able to create new and edit existing ad campaigns using Partner Categories and can run these ad campaigns until Sept. 30, 2018 – so take action or make sure your agency partner is working on your behalf to leverage this data while you can. By Oct. 1, 2018, all other Partner Categories will no longer be available as targeting options and Facebook will stop delivering ads using these audiences.

And The Implications Will Be???

As consumers, we are more than oversaturated with ads throughout the day – many of which aren’t targeted to our interests and are irrelevant. But, when it comes to advertising that is crafted and served based on past consumer data, the ads we do experience are often more personalized and more apt to be well received – ultimately providing a better user experience. While there may be a little ‘creep factor’, I personally would rather experience ads that speak to me and my interests rather than be served irrelevant ads that frustrate and cause me to move on. A number of ads I have been served on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger (employing targeting using data from my past purchase behavior) have driven me to make a purchase or take steps to learn and become more engaged with the brand.

So, What Should Advertisers Do?

✅ Invest in using your own data. Leverage custom audiences and lookalike audiences when you can.

✅ Do your homework and pay attention. Look into other forms of targeting by interests and categories that are similar to the categories offered by Partner Categories. Look back at your best performing ads and take note of the audiences that resulted in the greatest ROI. Pay attention to where your target audience spends most of their time – are they leaving Facebook but becoming more active on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat? Take note.

✅ Test alternate targeting strategies and look to alternate audience attributes to continue segmentation and testing. And be patient with changes that you do make. Results don’t happen overnight and you need to give the algorithm time to analyze and adjust.


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