So what’s really going on with the new Facebook updates?
As you’re aware, unless you live in the deepest depths under the darkest rock, Facebook was recently accused of having subpar privacy restraints after Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm, used consumer information gleaned from Facebook to bolster Trump’s 2016 campaign. In response to these perceived privacy breaches, Facebook is amending many of their practices in an attempt to make users feel safer.
It is worth noting that Facebook isn’t alone in their relationships with third party targeting tools. Google, Snapchat, and Twitter all work in similar ways. So while they’re now missing crucial information that other platforms still have access to, Facebook is hoping to blaze the trail into new conversations surrounding privacy online.
As advertisers, we use Facebook audiences on a daily basis. This means that, with the help of Facebook, we create audiences that are potentially interested in the products we’re selling. Generally, we consider age, sex, household income, occupation, and other affinities as key indicators of whether or not an individual is worth our time and money to target. All of these indicators, however, aren’t available due to Facebook’s move to increase privacy for their users.
As AdAge reported, “Facebook said it would remove ad targeting options that relied on consumer data from third-parties such as Acxiom, Oracle Data Cloud, Experian, Epsilon, and others. These data providers have some of the deepest insights into consumer behavior across the world—information on what people buy, where they shop, what kind of cars they drive, health profiles, incomes, family makeup—and they are integral to the entire digital ad ecosystem.”
While new precautions will slowly unfold over the next 6 months, we’ve already seen evidence of the changes. Household income is a category that’s no longer available to advertisers. While this affects us—we often have clients who envision their target audience in higher income brackets—there are ways we can work around this. Focusing on location, or other luxury interests of users (Whole Foods, for example), can give us similar data regarding income.
According to Facebook, however, the privacy changes won’t have an effect on Custom Audiences, which are targeting lists based on proprietary knowledge. I know what you’re thinking: what does THAT mean? Custom Audiences are lists that Facebook creates for brands based on people who have formerly visited your page or engaged with your content. Those people were likely initially targeted based on information that is no longer available, but they have moved along the sales funnel into a Custom Audience, so you’ve still got access to them.
And there you have it.