Facebook Ad Targeting Changes

Facebook ad targeting changes are coming soon with the removal of Partner Categories. What does this mean and who is affected?

Facebook announced in March 2018 that the 3rd party targeting data would be removed due to the privacy concerns that were introduced with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.  The 6-month “wind down” period of this change is currently in process and will likely be finished in September and October.

You may already be seeing these changes in the current ads you are running.  In this article I’ll talk about what types of keywords are affected and how to adjust your Facebook Ads strategy.

What are Facebook Partner Categories?

Facebook Partner Categories included data that came from these companies that specialize in collecting data about people:  Acxiom, Epsilon, Experian, Oracle Data Cloud, TransUnion, and WPP.

With Partner Categories you were able target people based on offline behaviors people take outside of Facebook, such as owning a home, being in the market for a new truck or being a loyal purchaser of a specific brand or product.

The data that these 3rd parties collected was then matched to Facebook logins so that if we wanted to target a Facebook ad to show to a homeowner who has purchased luxury travel for example, we could.

Here are some examples of the types of target keywords that were included in partner categories:

  • Home ownership
  • Income and financial data like net worth
  • Purchase behavior such as specific types of cars, clothing, stores
  • Travel behavior
  • Company information – size
  • Charitable donations
  • Certain job titles (although some will be retained in Facebook’s targeting)

You can sometimes see if that key word is available because of a partner category in the description.

Facebook partner category keywords

Partner Categories only existed in 7 countries:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • France
  • Germany
  • Japan

If you are advertising in different countries or you are not using Partner Categories now, your ads will not be affected.


How do you know if you are using Facebook Ad Target keywords that are going away?

Facebook is letting you know that the keyword you are using are going away or will be going away soon.

Removing Facebook Targeting


If you have an ad currently running that is using these Partner Category Targets, you may have to remove these targets in order to continue running the ad (Facebook has made this process easier).

Previous Audiences using Facebook Targeting

You may still be able to run the ads up until the deadline which should be October 1st at the latest but sometimes they are requiring that you remove the targeting earlier.


What Facebook Ad strategies should you use if you were relying on Partner Categories?

Facebook is starting to give some suggestions as to other keywords you can choose instead of that current keyword.  But they aren’t always perfect.  For example someone who is interested in Zillow may not be a “New Mover” or “Likely to Move” now.


Facebook Target suggests replacements


Here are my recommendations on how to adjust your Facebook Ad targeting strategy:

  1. Focus on ads that have a Facebook Conversion or Lead Generation event and use a wider targeting than you may have been using in the past.  Let Facebook optimize your ad around that conversion.
  2. Use website retargeting and video view engagement retargeting to appeal to your warmer audience.
  3. Test Lookalike Audiences based on current customers, repeat buyers, and your engaged audience.
  4. To get better conversions, use a good call to action and Facebook Ad image to appeal to your ideal customer.

You may be doing some of this already.  This is going to be a harder adjustment for people who have had the partner category targeting work well for them.

I think Facebook will continue to add more targeting capacity based on their own data.  I’m already seeing new target options.  So make sure you continue to do new Facebook keyword research with every campaign because new options are being added.

Have you been using Facebook Partner Categories?  What adjustments are you making?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!


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