Facebook is Removing Third-Party Targeting: What This Means for Marketers

You are likely aware that Facebook, under heightened scrutiny and mounting regulatory pressure, has announced it will be removing access to data provided by third-party data brokers for its advertising system. This includes all third-party targeting capabilities – both private and public. Currently in Facebook under the Partner Categories by Request option, advertisers can request access to private data from vendors like Oracle and Experian or access public data categories that include behavioral targeting parameters – like purchasing behavior and household income. Facebook does not disclose the source(s) it uses for this data.

Nearly half of Facebook’s 1,200 targeting criteria come from third-party data sources, all of which will be impacted by this change. Facebook is making this move as a result of its Cambridge Analytica data breech crisis. Facebook is also doing it to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will go into effect May 25, 2018.

In an unprecedented move, this broad-reaching GDPR provides governmental guidance regarding how European Union (EU) member states handle users’ personal information. But this doesn’t just affect EU companies. GDPR will apply to all companies that process personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where they reside. That means it applies to US companies that process data of EU citizens, whether they live in the States or not.

The GDPR requires companies to provide the highest levels of privacy protection or suffer dire financial consequences. Violators may face a fine up to four percent of their company’s global revenue. This will affect how third-party data is used throughout the digital advertising world regardless of location.

Facebook released the following 2018 timeline for its GDPR compliance and its impact on advertisers:

May 10: After this date, you will no longer be able to create or edit campaign using Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France; however, they will be allowed to continue running until May 24.

 May 25: Facebook will no longer deliver to Partner Categories built on audiences from the UK, Germany, and France, and these targeting options will no longer be available for use on the platform. You will notified to update any targeting containing impacted Partner Categories before this date.

June 30: Last day for creating new or editing existing campaigns using non-EU Partner Categories; they will be allowed to run until September 30.

October 1: All other Partner Categories will no longer be available as targeting options and Facebook will stop delivering against these audiences. You will be notified to update your targeting by this date.

Many marketers who use third-party Facebook data to reach their prospects are likely shaken by this news. But keep in mind that while US advertisers have had access to third-party data, that hasn’t been true everywhere – like in Canada, for example. Canada hasn’t had access, yet advertisers have still had the ability to scale and deliver successful Facebook campaigns.

It’s very difficult to predict what comes next. It’s possible that advertisers will buy audiences directly from data brokers and layer it into their own data before importing it as a Custom Audience in Facebook. Or Facebook may find alternative ways to incorporate third-party data. Facebook could also bring these data fields in-house and begin to re-release them to advertisers. Read my blog for updates.

 

 

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