Have Facebook’s Targeting Changes Affected Your Digital Marketing?

While these changes happened in fall 2020 when Facebook announced major  alterations to its ad targeting tools, we are still feeling the effects now. We see the impact of these changes with both existing ad campaigns as well as new ones. Perhaps you’re in the same boat and are wondering how you need to adjust your digital strategy to ensure Facebook is still delivering results for you.

If you’re like me, you may have asked yourself why Facebook decided to make changes to its ad targeting. This has been a slow build, which began back in early 2019 when Facebook was sued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for violations of the Fair Housing Act. According to HUD and other organizations like the ACLU and NFHA,  Facebook’s ad targeting tools limited the housing options reaching certain protected classes by enabling advertisers to target ads based on age, location, education status, etc. 

Facebook responded with a vague announcement that it would make changes to its targeting and advertising tools by the end of 2019. They offered no further insight as to when these changes would go into effect. It came as a shock to many of us then when Facebook, without prior announcement, decided to implement several changes that had immediate effects on existing campaigns and all of the digital advertising on Facebook moving forward. 

Here are the Facebook Targeting Changes

  • The list of interests we had grown so accustomed to and relied on is now greatly shortened. There are no longer targeting options for jobs, housing, employment, and credit ads. 
  • There is no longer an option to do demographic targeting based on traits like age, ethnicity, and income.
  • Radius targeting has also been impacted. Now, there is a 15-mile minimum radius. It used to be a one-mile minimum radius.

These changes create much broader Facebook ad audiences. This creates greater competition among ads because more people are seeing a greater variety of ads. Your ad must fight harder now to get noticed. 

My team has been working diligently to understand and master the Facebook targeting changes. We have been adapting our approach for our clients, leveraging our digital expertise to create updated best practices. All is not bad news. While Facebook’s changes did limit some of the functionality of certain targeting tools, it is still very possible and feasible to use Facebook ads as an effective part of your ad mix. You will, however, need to rethink your Facebook strategy. Here’s what we recommend:

1. Evaluate Your Current Digital Media Strategy

Are you getting the results you want? Where do you need to make changes to get the results you want from Facebook? Too often businesses become complacent and don’t make changes to their digital ads like they should. Now is a good time to see if you have fallen into this trap and if you have to take steps to reinvigorate your strategy. 

2. Optimize Your Ad Copy and Design

If you want to attract the best prospects, your ads must cut through the clutter and speak to your target audience with clear and focused messaging. Facebook ads don’t come with much geography, so use the little space you have wisely: think high-impact copy, high-quality images, and a clear benefit.

3. Switch to a Look-A-Like Model

In some cases Facebook allows you to use a Look-A-Like model. This is a great option, but it can get a bit tricky. Your Look-A-Like database must match your target market, and then you must understand how to work with Facebook so they will allow you to use it.

4. Place Your Targeting Radius Strategically

Even with the new 15-mile targeting radius minimum, you may still be able to effectively target by location. We’ve also discovered a workaround you may want to try for your location. Try centering your target over rural or less densely populated areas. You only want the outer part of your circle to include the area you are really looking to target. This little trick helps bring down the number of unqualified prospects and puts your ad in front of your target location.  

As you navigate this new Facebook terrain, please e-mail me if you need any guidance.

How Google Changes Will Affect Your Digital Strategy

Google announced plans last week to end support for third-party cookies.  Third-party cookies fuel much of the digital advertising ecosystem. Other browsers have already begun a phased removal of third-party cookies. This is a significant blow to the advertising industry and will definitely affect your digital advertising strategy. Let’s discuss why this is a big deal.

Third-party cookies are placed on a website by someone other than the owner of the website – this is the third party. The cookie collects data for the third party, enabling businesses to monitor online user activity and develop behavioral targeting by tracking users across domains. This enhances their success at marketing the right message to the right user at the right time because they are seeing a full picture of behavior across sites and not by just looking at data from when the user interacted with the owner’s site. 

Third-party cookies are a powerful way to help drive sales up and increase website traffic. Here’s how:

1. Target Messaging

Data can be gathered from online purchases, frequently visited websites, Internet searches, etc., to better understand and predict consumer behavior. Using this information, marketers can target the right consumer and feed them relevant content. 

2. Optimize Results

Third-party cookies provide the ability to track and value all marketing touch points specific to each consumer, which leads to campaign optimization. This also leads to the ability to measure the impact of each gathered touch point and approach with a higher degree of accuracy. This insight into how individual channels are performing against one another helps determine where to spend marketing dollars for optimum results.

If Third-Party Cookies Are So Great, Why Are They Going Away?

Good question. It’s because of enhanced data privacy laws that aim to make things more transparent about how consumer data is being gathered, used, and shared. They also work to give consumers greater choice and control over how their data is used. This move has led some businesses to implement permission-based third-party cookies. Others are choosing to phase third-party cookies out completely and are seeking new solutions.

What Will Replace Third-Party Cookies?

While there is no one single solution as of yet, there are several workarounds coming: 

The Privacy Sandbox – This is Googles solution that works to protect consumers while also helping marketers. Google will create targeted groups based on anonymous data that can be used by marketers to target, retarget, measure, optimize, etc. 

Authenticated Traffic Solution – This solution is by LiveRamp. It will gather real-time, consented user data without the use of cookies. The single opt-out option for platforms and publishers offers greater control and privacy for consumers while still providing targeted information to marketers. 

It’s important to remember that third-party cookies while incredibly valuable, they are one part of the marketing whole. For example, businesses that put the time in to building their CRM database already understand the value of the first-party and zero-party data they collect. Another option along those lines is direct partnerships with publishers and businesses to collect first-party and zero-party data about customers to target them directly. 

The demise of third-party cookies has been in the works since the beginning due to consumer privacy concerns. It’s taken awhile to get to this stage. I’m certain additional solutions will be offered, and Google will eventually create a new standard for marketers to adopt that will be an effective replacement for third-party cookies. 

If you need someone to help you navigate through this,  let’s talk