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.